Domonique Foxworth, the retired cornerback who is the president of the NFL Players Association, said Tuesday that players do not trust the league or Commissioner Roger Goodell.
“It’s really hard for me to convince my players that you can trust Roger or trust the league,” Foxworth said during a union conference call with reporters.
Union officials addressed a variety of topics during the conference call, held a day before players are scheduled to meet with the league’s competition committee in Indianapolis—site of this week’s NFL scouting combine—to discuss safety issues.
Foxworth said the league and union made progress toward a smooth working relationship when they completed a 10-year labor deal in 2011.
But he added: “There was a bridge beginning to be built and then there were some recent events that kind of broke that bridge again.”
League spokesman Greg Aiello responded, according to the Associated Press: “Since 2011 the union has spent most of its time backing away from its commitments. Whether on old litigation, HGH, or commissioner discipline, the NFLPA has consistently looked backwards.
“Trust is a two-way street. If the union wants to work together to build a better, safer and even more popular game, we extend our hand in partnership and respect. If the union wants to stir up old grievances and create mistrust, we will simply have to do the best we can to serve the interests on the fans, players and the game.”
Union representatives mentioned the punishments handed out by Goodell in the bounty case involving the New Orleans Saints as a particular cause of players’ mistrust of the league.
Foxworth said the union won’t agree to players being blood-tested for human growth hormone until the NFLPA and the league work out an appeals process acceptable to the players.
“Our players are willing to expose themselves to an imperfect test as long as they’re able to appeal the results, which I think is more than reasonable,” Foxworth said.
Foxworth also said players are displeased with the league’s fines of players for illegal hits.
“These things are arbitrary and it makes our guys uncomfortable when they feel like the punishments are not consistent,” he said.
On other topics, union officials said:
*The union is appealing its collusion case accusing teams of operating with a secret salary cap during the sport’s uncapped season in 2010. The union’s complaint was dismissed by a federal judge in Minnesota. U.S. District Court Judge David Doty agreed with the league’s assertion that the union had waived its right to bring such a claim.
The union reiterated Tuesday that it agreed to the league’s salary cap reductions for the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys last year only after the league made it clear that without such an agreement, last season’s salary cap would be lower for all teams.
“That was an unfortunate situation that we were put in. But our job is to make sure all players benefit league-wide,” said George Atallah, the union’s assistant executive director of external affairs.
*The union and the league still must agree to a protocol for having independent neurologists on sidelines at games next season to evaluate players for possible concussions.
*The union is awaiting the final salary cap number for next season. It is estimated the cap will be approximately $122 million per team.