NEW ORLEANS -- NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Friday expressed confidence that human growth hormone testing will be in place when teams kick off next season.
"I believe that HGH testing is going to happen prior to the 2013 NFL season. It's the right thing to do for the players," Goodell told reporters during his annual state of the league news conference.
Said Goodell: "It's the right thing to do for the integrity of the game. And it's also the right thing to do, to send the right message to everybody else in sports: You don't have to play the game by taking performance-enhancing drugs. The science is there. There is no question about that."
The commissioner pointed to the Olympics and Major League Baseball as vehicles that have already moved the ball on HGH testing, and he's correct on this front -- the NFL has fallen behind on the issue.
Goodell pointed out the league and the NFL Players Association agreed to testing in the new collective bargaining agreement two years ago. That was treated as a major victory in the days following the lockout, but there's been little progress since. The union still has questions about the appeals process behind HGH testing, but the commissioner downplayed speculation his authority to discipline is holding up an agreement with the NFLPA.
"With all due respect, we gave them, as part of HGH, arbitration -- third-party arbitration," Goodell told NFL Network's Rich Eisen. "It wouldn't be my decision. They can move toward a system that is more of a third-party system, particularly as it relates to drug testing, so that's counter-intuitive for me."
Testing is long overdue, but until the NFL and the union bridge their differences over this issue, HGH monitoring remains more of a hope than a reality.