Top House lawmakers are planning to meet with National Football League (NFL) Commissioner Roger Goodell on Wednesday about the future of testing players for human growth hormone (HGH) levels and a bevy of other issues plaguing the football league.
Reps. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the chairman and ranking member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said they were slated to talk with Goodell about when NFL players will begin getting blood tests.
The rare sign of bipartisanship could put the ultimate fire under the NFL’s feet, which was been pressing the union — the NFL Players Association — to test players for more than a year. After initially supporting HGH tests in last year’s collective bargaining agreement, the union questioned the standards of comparison in testing levels of HGH in players.
Congress has been frustrated by the slow momentum in the NFL after its 2008 success in getting Major League Baseball to administer more stringent tests on its players.
In July — weeks before the summer Olympics began — House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and ranking member Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) pressed the NFL and the union to come to an agreement and begin tests ahead of the 2012 season, which officially began last week.
“It is time for the NFL to follow the Olympic model and start testing for HGH,” they wrote. “Until you do, questions will remain about the commitment of the athletes and owners of the NFL to health, safety, and fair play.”
Cummings said on Tuesday that tomorrow’s meeting will be an attempt to gauge how close the union is to coming fully on board with the testing.
Goodell is also planning to meet with members of the Congressional Military Veterans’ Caucus and the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force.
Last week, the NFL donated $30 million to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), shortly after partnering with the U.S. Army to study traumatic brain injuries in football players and soldiers and share information between the organizations.
Goodell and a representative from the Army are expected to brief lawmakers on how they’re hoping the collaboration will unfold.
The lawmakers are likely to discuss a range of topics, such as a recently exposed "bounty" program within the New Orleans Saints, in which the team gave players financial bonuses if they delivered hits that injured their opponents.
—This story was updated at 4:41 p.m.