DeMaurice Smith, Executive Director of the National Football League Players Association, dropped by The MoJo Show on Tuesday, excited for the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.‘s March on Washington.
“It’s a great (opportunity) to remember a moment in time when people came together for a cause that was not only righteous, but one that required everybody to take stock of themselves and make the world a better place for everyone,” he said. “Our history as a union is inextricably tied to making sacrifices for the greater good. So what’s on our agenda? Tomorrow (Wednesday) is going to be a great day of remembrance. And I hope it’ll be a great day of a lot of our young men reflecting on the people who came before them.”
Smith wrote a column for the Washington Blade this week, arguing that King’s struggle for equality must include gay and lesbian rights. Smith hopes that the day will soon come when an NFL player is openly gay – and openly accepted.
“What if we just frame this as, ‘Wow, we hope we get to the day where a man can be exactly who he wants to be on a team of professionals and not have it cost him his job, his respect or his place on the team,’” Smith said. “We expect and we know that in order to play this game at the highest level, you have to be a world-class athlete, and the great thing about football and the way in which our men are measured each and every day is the best play. And nothing else should matter. I hope we’re already at a day where people feel they can be exactly who they are. If there are people on teams or people in the communtiy who can’t accept that or can’t get over that, let’s just walk by them and wish them a merry day.”
Smith also discussed the NFLPA’s push for HGH testing.
“Hopefully we are on the cusp of having the most comprehensive and scientifically valid HGH testing in the world,” he said. “Our players are ready to submit to blood tests. We’ve agreed to have over 800 players being randomly tested throughout the NFL season. That’s going to include over 2,000 players who will have their blood drawn and measured and tested pursuant to the population study. We understand it’ll be scientifically validated by a scientist that we jointly pick, so we are light years ahead of where we were when we came out of the CBA.
“We just have to get to this point where all of the players want neutral arbitration pursuant to every aspect of discipline that is imposed under the new drug system,” Smith continued. “The National Football League wants to create a carve-out for a certain level of cases, and we believe those are exactly the kind of cases that should go to a neutral arbitrator, mainly those where punishment or discipline is imposed without a positive test. So it seems to me that’s a reasonable place for us to be, and I know that our men and (the NFL) are ready to have HGH testing implemented as soon as possible.”
Smith thinks such legislation is good for the game and long overdue.
“Drug testing and HGH testing is good for our game,” he said. “It’s great for the integrity of our game. And I also think that in order for us to have a system that works, I honestly believe we have to have a system where our players respect that system and respect the judgements that come out of that system. I frankly don’t believe it’s a good system if our players have a lack of respect for the system or the commissioner.
“(But) I think the good news is we have agreed to the population study – and that’s something we can start, frankly, tomorrow.”