Commissioner Pete Rozelle of the National Football League said today that numerous team owners want to institute more frequent mandatory drug testing for their players in the new collective bargaining agreement.
"You hear a lot of owners wanting to make it part of the collective bargaining . . . I'd like to see it, too," Rozelle said, as league owners convened for two days of meetings.
Miami Dolphins owner Joseph Robbie said, "The players are role models and, with the compensation they are receiving, they owe it to themselves and to the public to show that they are clean of drug involvement."
"I really don't expect the (NFL players) union to fight very hard against it," said Tex Schramm, Dallas Cowboys president, who is also a minority owner of the club. "It seems that all sports are going toward this way. People know that with all of the things we are doing with (drug) testing now, we're just scratching the surface."
Gene Upshaw, executive director of the NFL Players Association, said, "I've visited 17 teams and I don't see any reason to believe that players are ready for mandatory testing. We have a policy in place and we don't plan on making any changes now. When the contract comes up in 1987, then we'll sit down and decide what we want to do."
The current collective bargaining agreement, which will expire after the 1986 season, provides for all players to be given a urinalysis during their preseason physical. A player may also be tested for chemical abuse by the team physician during the season only "upon reasonable cause." No spot checks are permitted.
"I have talked with Gene Upshaw and with Tom Condon (NFLPA president) and they are concerned with the idea of random testing," said Jack Donlan, executive director of the owners' Management Council. "They feel that some clubs might want to get rid of a player because he tests positive.
"But we have to emphasize the fact that, if a player has a problem, we all have the obligation to try to rehabilitate him, including the player himself."
League owners did not discuss drug testing in meetings today, a league spokesman said. Rather, owners discussed a variety of issues that will not affect the season in progress.
Russ Thomas, general manager of the Detroit Lions, withdrew his team's proposal to increase roster sizes from 45 players to an unspecified amount. Consequently, there was no discussion on that ever-controversial issue.
On Wednesday, owners will decide whether to approve the use of instant replay to aid officials on certain controversial plays, such as a fumble or whether a player stepped out of bounds. The replays could be used as early as this season's playoffs.
While several owners said they favor replays, New York Giants General Manager George Young said his team will vote against it because "you have different camera coverage in national TV games, regional TV games and local TV games. There can't be that kind of favoritism.
"Also, I don't want the official to think that there is a higher authority in the game than him."
Two trades were made prior to the 4 p.m. trading deadline, both involving reserve tight ends. Cincinnati sent Dan Ross to Seattle for an undisclosed draft pick and Detroit moved James McDonald to the Los Angeles Rams for an undisclosed pick.
The Chicago Bears apparently had traded linebacker Al Harris, an unsigned veteran free agent, to the Lions this afternoon. However, Bears General Manager Jerry Vainisi said that the Lions were unable to reach contract agreement with Harris and the deal fell through.
Vainisi said the Bears have been trying to trade Harris, a starter last season, since Feb. 1. "We knew his value was at its peak and we wanted to play Wilber Marshall (in Harris' place)," Vainisi said.
Other issues that were decided today: the league will change from using film to videotape in games during the 1986 season. Rozelle said videotape equipment will cost teams $400,000, but that videotape will be cheaper in the long run.
Also, the league again will test voice amplification in helmets next preseason and the 1986 college draft will be held April 29.