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Union head takes on NFL on player safety issues

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Union head takes on NFL on player safety issues

NEW ORLEANS (AP) So much for labor peace in the NFL.

Less than 18 months after the league and players ended a lockout by signing a 10-year collective bargaining agreement, NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith and union president Domonique Foxworth used a Super Bowl news conference to lay out a series of complaints about safety issues Thursday.

Smith began by threatening to file a grievance if the NFL refuses to institute a system to verify the credentials of all medical personnel on the 32 teams. He mentioned three amendments the NFLPA wants to make to the new CBA, including the appointment of ``a neutral chief safety officer who can hear appeals about acceptable levels of medical care.''

He called the NFL's lockout of its officials at the start of this season ``one of the most deliberate disregards of player safety that I think has occurred in the National Football League since our inception.''

All in all, it sent a clear message that the union and owners have significant differences about how to improve players' health and safety.

Even when the sides do agree, they can't seem to agree.

The union has been pressing the NFL to put independent neurological consultants on sidelines during games to help diagnose and treat concussions, something league general counsel Jeff Pash announced at a news conference earlier Thursday he expects to begin next season.

But Smith would only acknowledge having ``heard that they have relented, at least in some respect, to have sideline concussion experts. We have not seen the proposal.''

Pash did say that ``details need to be worked through'' with the NFLPA.

The NFL is facing concussion-related lawsuits from thousands of former players. In a series of interviews about head injuries with The Associated Press in December 2011, 31 of 44 players said they wanted the league to have independent neurologists at games.

At its media session Thursday, the union presented the results of an internal survey that it said showed a majority of players are not satisfied with the way their team manages injuries and that most do not trust their team's medical staff. The union would not say how many players participated, however.

``The league, their No. 1 focus - at least they say their No. 1 focus - is health and safety. And we say our No. 1 focus is health and safety,'' Foxworth said. ``How come we have such a hard time moving the ball on some health and safety issues?''

He mentioned the use of replacement officials, the NFL's desire for an 18-game season, the increased slate of Thursday night games and the New Orleans Saints bounty investigation as examples of items that have driven a wedge between the players and the league.

``All those things are happening, and our players see it,'' Foxworth said, ``and they lose trust.''

Still unresolved, too, is implementing blood tests for human growth hormone, something the CBA paved the way for but has not yet started. Pash said the league recently made a new proposal to the union that he thinks will lead to HGH testing next season. But Smith disputed that, saying the league still will not agree to the sort of independent arbitrator that Major League Baseball's drug-testing program has.

Said Smith: ``Why should football players take less due process rights than baseball players?''

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Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter athttp://twitter.com/HowardFendrich

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Orioles make home run history Tuesday night in more ways than one

Orioles make home run history Tuesday night in more ways than one

The Orioles pitching staff has struggled with the long ball all season long, and it culminated in a couple of historic moments at the ballpark.

First, it was Gary Sanchez joining his teammate Gleyber Torres in torturing Orioles pitchers this season, launching his eighth home run of the year against the O’s alone. 

Torres reached that mark earlier in the series, making them the first pair to reach eight home runs in the same season against the Orioles since Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. 

Anytime you’re the first to do something since literally Ruth and Gehrig, two of the greatest home run hitters in the history of the sport, you’re clearly doing something right (or wrong, if you’re an Orioles fan).

What’s especially concerning for the Orioles is how quickly Torres and Sanchez reached this mark, needing less than two months to accomplish what no one else had in an entire season for the last 88 years.

The other piece of history made also came with shocking speed in 2019.

In April, the Orioles became the first franchise to allow at least 50 home runs before May 1. The unfortunate thing for them is they reached the mark with a week and a half to spare.

That trend has continued into May, and the pitching staff now has another claim to fame.

In the sixth inning, the Yankees crushed their third bomb of the evening, bringing the Orioles home runs allowed total to 100 on the season. Per ESPN, the previous fastest team to allow that many was the 2000 Royals, who needed 57 games to make history.

The Orioles did it in just 48. They aren’t just setting records; they’re obliterating them.

With the way the season has gone so far, it’s not hard to imagine the Orioles setting a few more benchmarks for futility in 2019.

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Juan Soto isn't a HR hitter, the Mets broadcast said. Then he immediately went upper deck

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Juan Soto isn't a HR hitter, the Mets broadcast said. Then he immediately went upper deck

Juan Soto did something Tuesday night at Citi Field that made the whole broadcaster's jinx theory come to life. 

During Soto's 2nd inning at-bat, former MLB first baseman, five-time All-Star, 1979 co-NL MVP, two-time World Series champion, and current Mets broadcaster Keith Hernandez went out on a limb to describe the 20-year-old phenom. 

He is not a home run hitter even though he had nice power here last year.

So, in a rather timely fashion, the lefty launched a moonshot, 410-foot solo home run to right field for Washington's first run of the game. 

In fairness, Hernandez was just trying to explain that Soto isn't a home run hitter because of the type of swing he demonstrates, one that typically produces more line drives than long-balls. 

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