The NFL will begin airing anti-steroid television spots this weekend, part of an attempt by the league to make good on Commissioner Paul Tagliabue's pledge to Congress to do more to help raise national awareness of the nation's steroid problem among young people.
During questioning by members of the House Government Reform Committee in April, Tagliabue outlined some of the league's previous public-education measures on the steroid issue and said the NFL would increase its efforts to dissuade teenagers with dreams of playing in the league from using steroids.
The new TV spots were taped by NFL Films in August with students at Cinnaminson (N.J.) High School and are scheduled to air during games and other programming on Fox, CBS, ABC, ESPN and the NFL Network. The spots were scheduled to begin airing last weekend but were postponed a week because of fundraising for relief efforts for victims of Hurricane Katrina. The league produced the spots in collaboration with the NFL Players Association and the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
The spots will be the first ever aired by the NFL about steroids. The league's previous attempts at steroid education for the public involved the distribution of literature and videotapes to high schools nationwide.
When Tagliabue and Gene Upshaw, the executive director of the Players Association, appeared on Capitol Hill in April, lawmakers praised the NFL's steroid policy as being the toughest in professional sports but said the league still could do more. The April hearing came in the aftermath of reports that Carolina Panthers players had steroid prescriptions filled by a South Carolina physician within weeks of playing in the Super Bowl in February 2004. The league and the union have taken steps since then to toughen the NFL's steroid-testing program.
Tagliabue and Upshaw are scheduled to appear, along with the leaders of other sports, before the Senate Commerce Committee next week as it considers proposed legislation that would establish federal steroid-testing standards for pro sports.
The Houston Texans are making contingency plans, with Hurricane Rita closing in on the Texas coastline.
The team has a bye this weekend and doesn't play again until Oct. 2 at Cincinnati. Club officials are studying the possibility of having the team practice in the Cincinnati area next week, if necessary, to prepare for the Bengals game.
The Texans next play at home on Oct. 9 against the Tennessee Titans. That game could be moved to Nashville, if necessary, in which case a Dec. 11 game between the two teams scheduled to be played at Tennessee would be shifted to Houston. If the Oct. 9 game is moved, the Texans would not be scheduled to play at home again until Oct. 23.
For now, the club's players are scheduled to report back to Houston for a morning team meeting Monday. The Texans told their players to leave town for the weekend after canceling their practice scheduled for Thursday . . . .
The NFL set kickoff times for the New Orleans Saints' remaining seven home games this season. They'll play all three of their games scheduled to be played in San Antonio (Oct. 2 against Buffalo, Oct. 16 against Atlanta and Dec. 24 against Detroit) at 1 p.m. Eastern time. They'll play two of their four games scheduled to be played in Baton Rouge, La., (Oct. 30 against Miami and Nov. 6 against Chicago) at 4:05, and the other two (Dec. 4 against Tampa Bay and Dec. 18 against Carolina) at 1.