Washington Quarterback Donovan McNabb eagerly bounded onto the practice field with his Minnesota Vikings teammates in Mankato, Minn., on Thursday afternoon, before being told he and other NFL players with new contracts still needed to be patient.
And then, shortly before 5 p.m. EDT, the good news came: The wait was over. The NFL officially was back in business, CBA and all. That 41⁄2-month lockout? A thing of the past in every way.
“Were we going to have the opportunity to step on the field today? Was this thing going to linger?” McNabb said, explaining his thoughts while on hold for word of a completed collective bargaining agreement. “Good thing we got this thing settled. And now here we are.”
Players ratified a new, 10-year CBA on Thursday, hours after it was finalized, and two people familiar with the negotiations told the Associated Press the contract allows the NFL eventually to become the first major U.S. professional sports league to use blood testing for human growth hormone.
They spoke on condition of anonymity because no formal announcement had been made about the details of the CBA.
Players would be subject to random testing for HGH, in addition to annual checks — as is the case for all banned substances in the league’s drug-testing program — only after the union is confident in the way the testing and appeals process will work.
“We have to see if we agree with the test,” Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Rashean Mathis said. “If we agree with the test, then it’s legit. If not, they have to come up with another one.”
The aim is to have everything worked out in time to start HGH testing by Week 1 of the regular season, but that is not guaranteed.