After months of early growing pains in their new relationship, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith sent a joint memo Monday to some 1,700 players to reinforce the league's collective bargained policy on anabolic steroids and related substances.
In a copy of the memo obtained by ESPN, Goodell and Smith referred to the controversy and subsequent rulings regarding a banned substance contained in a supplement called StarCaps. Goodell last week ruled that New Orleans Saints defensive ends Charles Grant and Will Smith can continue playing because of a court ruling that prevents the league from suspending Minnesota Vikings defensive tackles Kevin Williams and Pat Williams for testing positive for the same supplement. The court case remains active without final resolution.
Regardless of the uncertainty of the StarCaps case, Goodell and Smith jointly reminded the players in the memo as follows:
• You are responsible for what is in your body. A positive test will not be excused because you used a supplement that contained a banned substance.
• If you take any supplements other than those certified under our Sports Nutrition Label Certification Program, you do so at your own risk. Supplements are not tested or regulated and often have ingredients that will cause you to test positive.
• Weight-loss supplements such as StarCaps are particularly risky. You should not take them.
• If you have questions, you should call Dr. John Lombardo.
Lombardo is the administrator of the league's policy on steroids and related substances.
Goodell and Smith met privately last Wednesday in Washington, D.C., when they participated in an event related to retired players, sources said. Goodell urged Smith to join him in a renewed commitment to the program, sources said. Smith agreed, providing he could participate in the wording of the memo.
Thus, it was noteworthy that in the second paragraph, it stressed the importance of players to understand the steroids policy remains in place and that a positive test will "generally" result in a suspension.
The memo concludes with Goodell and Smith saying, "We continue to support the policy and our players and will continue to maintain its effectiveness, to improve it, and to ensure that it applies fairly and consistently."
Chris Mortensen is ESPN's senior NFL analyst.