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NFLPA: HGH use 'not something that's common' in football

INDIANAPOLIS -- The use of human growth hormone is more of a problem in baseball than in football, the president of the NFL Players Association insists.

"We feel it's not something that's common in our space," former defensive back Troy Vincent said Wednesday before the start of the NFL scouting combine.

The NFL and other leagues don't currently test for HGH. Vincent said the question of how soon a reliable test would be available was a topic of discussion at a meeting Wednesday involving commissioner Roger Goodell, NFLPA executive director Gene Upshaw and more than a dozen players.

New England Patriots safety Rodney Harrison was suspended for the first four games of this past season after he admitted using "a banned substance," reportedly HGH, for the purpose of "accelerating the healing process."

But Vincent doesn't believe that many other players in a violent game also are seeking to speed up their recuperation with banned substances. He suggested that recreational drugs are the greater challenge facing the NFL.

"You don't usually find (performance-enhancing drugs) on the north side of Philly or in a rural Texas neighborhood," Vincent said.

New York Yankees senior vice president Hank Steinbrenner claimed Monday that "football is tailor-made for performance-enhancing drugs."

"I don't know how they managed to skate by," he said. "It irritates me. Don't tell me it's not more prevalent. The number in football is at least twice as many. Look at the speed and size of those players."

Vincent contended that the differences between the two sports make football a less fertile ground for performance-enhancing drugs. Baseball players working their way through the minors or trying to stay in the league into their 40s are more likely to try to gain an edge, he said.

"I'm dealing with 20-year-olds popping with God-given ability," he said.

Congress' interest in baseball's anti-doping policy has caught football players' attention.

"We did talk about steroids to the emphasis of how far ahead of the other sports we are," Vincent said of Wednesday's meeting.

The NFL has had year-round random testing for steroids since 1990.

The issue that was dogging the NFL at this time last year was a spate of players getting into legal trouble. Goodell and Vincent said that off-the-field incidents were down 20 percent in 2007 from the previous year.

Goodell said he has seen "a particularly positive reaction from rookies."

"I think a lot of it is you know what the penalty is and players are taking ownership," Vincent said. "Are you going to totally clean up the game and prevent guys from getting DWIs? No. But that's one of the things we wanted when we left here last year.

"We don't want to be talking about Pacman Jones and Chris Henry," Vincent said of two players who were suspended. "We want to be talking about Eli Manning winning the Super Bowl."

AP Sports Writer Michael Marot contributed to this report.Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved

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