Based upon a late proposal the NFL sent to the players Tuesday that included unacceptable protocol in the areas of neutral arbitration and HGH testing, the NFL Players Association's 32 player representatives decided to table a scheduled vote on an overhauled drug policy that has had the two parties engaged in intensive talks over the past two weeks.
The NFLPA was expecting to take a vote that would have revised policy and allowed for the immediate reinstatement of almost 20 players currently under suspension, including star receivers Josh Gordon of the Cleveland Browns and Wes Welker of the Denver Broncos, as well as cornerback Orlando Scandrick of the Dallas Cowboys, sources said.
A vote on Wednesday has not been ruled out, a person directly involved in the discussions told ESPN. The source also said that the suspended players who would be reinstated believe they will soon return to the field.
Even while scheduling a vote and holding conference calls during the day, the NFLPA and NFL were hoping to close gaps that would conclude negotiations. The player reps agreed the latest proposal was not worthy of a vote that would require 17 yes votes to be enacted.
The league would not give a green light on allowing a player to challenge a positive HGH test on the basis of flawed science, an appeal that would go to arbitration for a ruling, per sources.
On HGH testing, the league and union also could not come to complete agreement on non-positive tests related to law enforcement cases in which a player purchases the drug. The league balked at allowing those players to appeal to an arbitration panel on the basis of whether their due process was not recognized; a successful appeal on that basis would have gone to a a binding ruling from a neutral arbitrator.
The reinstatement of players such as Gordon, Welker and Scandrick would be based on the fact that none of those players would have been suspended under the new policy. That was not a major hurdle, sources said.
It is unclear whether the NFLPA will continue negotiations or table them for the year. It is possible the union could set a deadline by next Tuesday to reach an agreement, a source said.
ESPN NFL reporter Ed Werder contributed to this report.