WOODLAWN, Md. — One of the hundreds of high school students attending an assembly on Monday about the dangers of performance-enhancing substances wanted NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to answer this question:
Why is there more drug use in baseball than football?
Goodell began his response this way: "I'm not sure that's true."
While making sure to emphasize that he believes the NFL's drug-testing program is a strong one, Goodell acknowledged that it can be improved, and said the league will insist that its next labor deal with players — whenever there is one — includes testing for human growth hormone.
"We'd be naive to think that people aren't trying to cheat the system. But we have to have the best testing program to be able to offset that," Goodell said.
Preventing athletes from using HGH is a key target in the anti-doping movement. The substance is hard to detect, and athletes are believed to choose HGH for a variety of benefits.
HGH use is prohibited by the NFL, but the league's old collective bargaining agreement did not have testing for it. Goodell thinks players "recognize the importance of" adding HGH tests.
The NFL Players Association has opposed blood tests in the past but did say last summer it would be open to hearing a proposal from the league during collective-bargaining talks.
VRABEL ARRESTED: Kansas City linebacker Mike Vrabel was arrested and charged with theft from a riverboat casino in Vevay, Ind.
The Switzerland County sheriff's department said Vrabel, 35, who played at Ohio State, was arrested and released on $600 cash bond.
"It was an unfortunate misunderstanding, and I take full responsibility for the miscommunication," Vrabel said. "I feel comfortable that after talking with the appropriate parties, we will resolve this matter."
The incident happened at the Belterra Casino in Florence, Ind.
Vrabel, a three-time Super Bowl winner with the New England Patriots, is a member of the NFLPA executive committee and one of the plaintiffs in the players' antitrust lawsuit against the NFL. He is supposed to appear tomorrow in Minneapolis in a hearing in federal court in the lawsuit.
LABOR UPDATE: A federal judge in Minnesota has decided to combine two requests to halt the NFL lockout.
U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson said that she will hear arguments from attorneys for Tom Brady, Drew Brees and other current players, as well as attorneys for retired players. The current players and retirees have filed similar antitrust lawsuits against the league in addition to their requests for an injunction to stop the lockout. The arguments will be heard Wednesday.
The players say the lockout should be stopped because it is causing irreparable harm. The retirees say it could jeopardize retirement benefits subsidized by the league. The retirees asked to consolidate the cases. Attorneys for the NFL didn't oppose combining the cases, but they want the lockout kept in place.