Will the NFL Lockout Result in Football Players Gone Wild?

There's no way to enforce drug testing and agent regulations during the contract standoff

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As if NFL fans needed more reasons to despair about the consequences of Friday's work stoppage, The New York Times' Adam Himmelsbach has pointed out that, without a collective bargaining agreement, the league now lacks "authority to enforce its drug and personal-conduct policies," and that the former player's union "ceded its ability to regulate agents" by decertifying Friday. Himmelsbach predicted a "test of morals" as players and agents weigh the risks and rewards of taking "previously banned substances and not be subject to suspensions when they return to play." The response from around the web, however, suggest these "tests" will be passed with relative ease:

  • Fox Sports NFL reporter Alex Marvez says the league is already taking steps to make sure agents aren't negotiating deals on the side, instituting a new rule "requiring general managers to keep a log of every conversation held with an agent." The two parties would be allowed to "discuss college prospects in this year's draft," but current players are off-limits. Marvez admits that the NFL's "previous lack of regulation and punishment for all but the most blatant of tampering charges...probably won't discourage all prohibited contacr" but believes the new rules will cause general managers to "think twice before being willing to risk NFL punishment."
  • On his Business Insider blog, agent Darren Heitner expresses skepticism that his fellow agents--established or upstart--will engage in widespread client-poaching, simply because they don't have much to offer. While  "anyone can hold himself out as a football agent now," Heitner notes that "as of right now there are no NFL contracts to negotiate," save for deals struck under the table in violation of league policy. Anyone looking to sign amateur athletes before the April draft "still must be licensed in the states he wishes to recruit" and is still subject to the NCAA's rules on player contact.
  • Weed, not roids, will be the lockout drug of choice, writes Yahoo's Michael Silver. They may be "empowered to party with abandon," but he doubts many players will risk their livelihood by taking up performance enhancing drugs.  As for crimes committed during the lockout, Silver expects "a lot of pleas to be copped" by players and anticipates that the new collective bargaining agreement, whenever it comes, will include language "preventing the commissioner from retroactively suspending and/or fining the parties in question."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.