IRVING, Texas — Josh Brent has been placed on the reserve/non-football illness list by the Dallas Cowboys, a move that ends his season but allows the defensive tackle to remain with the team.
The move Wednesday came a day after a memorial service for practice squad player Jerry Brown, Brent’s close friend who was killed in a car accident when police say Brent was driving drunk. Brent is facing charges related to the accident Saturday morning.
BOUNTY TALK: Former New Orleans defensive coordinator Gregg Williams testified that he tried to shut down the team’s bounty system when the NFL began investigating but was overruled by interim Saints head coach Joe Vitt, according to transcripts from appeals hearings obtained by The Associated Press.
According to the transcripts, Williams said that then-assistant Vitt responded to a suggestion that the pay-for-pain setup be abandoned with an obscenity-filled speech about how NFL commissioner Roger Goodell “wasn’t going to ... tell us to ... stop doing what won us the Super Bowl. This has been going on in the ... National Football League forever, and it will go on here forever, when they run (me) out of there, it will still go on.”
REDSKINS: Three days after spraining his knee, quarterback Robert Griffin III was just a little gimpy on the practice field and very cagey behind the microphone
He likes his chances of playing Sunday, but he and coach Mike Shanahan want to keep the Cleveland Browns guessing as long as possible.
PACKERS: Charles Woodson won’t be back for Green Bay’s big game against Chicago on Sunday.
The defensive back practiced last week for the first time since breaking his collarbone Oct. 21, and the Packers were optimistic he’d be ready for the Bears.
But Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy said Wednesday that doctors decided it was better to give the perennial Pro Bowler another week to heal.
Linebacker Clay Matthews, who has missed the past four weeks with a hamstring injury, practiced Wednesday. McCarthy says he’s “hopeful” Matthews will be able to play.
STEELERS: Running back Rashard Mendenhall’s one-game team suspension is for not attending this past Sunday’s game against the San Diego Chargers, according to multiple sources.
Mendenhall found out late last week he was going to be inactive, according to the sources, so he didn’t go to the game.
CARDINALS: Have given up hope that Kevin Kolb will return this season from injured ribs, placing the quarterback on injured reserve.
HGH TESTING: Accusing the NFL players’ union of “trying to back out” of an August 2011 agreement to start checking for human growth hormone, a congressman worried aloud Wednesday that the league will head into next season without a test for the banned drug.
“Hopefully as we move down the line, players will see how incredibly ridiculous it looks for them not to ... straighten this thing out,” said Rep. Elijah Cummings, of Maryland, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s ranking Democrat. “We’re now getting ready to go into a third season, and it does not look very good.”
The panel held a hearing to examine the science behind the testing, and heard from experts that it is reliable.
“No test is perfect ... but there hasn’t been a single false positive,” U.S. Anti-Doping Agency Chief Science Officer Larry Bowers testified.
While the latest, 10-year labor contract paved the way for HGH testing in professional football once certain parameters were set, the NFL Players Association wants a new study before it will agree to the validity of a test used by Olympic sports and Major League Baseball. The sides haven’t been able to agree on a scientist to help resolve that impasse.
HGH is a banned substance that is hard to detect and used by athletes for what are believed to be a variety of benefits, whether real or only perceived <0x2014> such as increasing speed or improving vision. Among the health problems connected to HGH are diabetes, cardiac dysfunction and arthritis.
“They say they need more time ... before doing what they agreed to do. To me, it seems obvious the Players Association is simply running out the clock,” Cummings said. “Although they agreed to HGH testing, they are now trying to back out of the contract.”
Cummings and committee chairman Darrell Issa, a California Republican, both said additional hearings are expected.
“It is our hope (to) move these parties closer together,” Issa said.
“This isn’t the players” who are objecting to the test, Issa said after the hearing. “This is lawyers making a statement. Players want to know that the rules are the rules for everybody. ... We’re not seeing a vast amount of players stand up. We’re seeing a few lawyers stand up on an unfounded technicality.”
The NFL and union were not invited to testify at the hearing, but representatives of both attended Wednesday’s session.
Asked about Cummings’ comments, NFLPA spokesman George Atallah said after the hearing: “I respect his opinion. We have a contract, and the contract says both sides have to agree to protocols to move forward.”
Atallah said the union was “absolutely not” trying to back out of the agreement on HGH.
NFL senior vice president Adolpho Birch, who oversees the league’s drug program, called the union’s insistence on a population study to determine whether current HGH tests are appropriate for NFL players a delay tactic.
“As a league, we need to look at it in terms of competitive integrity, in terms of being consistent with the NFL having a leadership position in the world of performance-enhancing drugs,” Birch said. “And frankly, I think this delay in implementing this program has put our leadership position at risk.”
Even once scientific issues are resolved, there will be other matters the league and union need to figure out, including who administers the test and what the appeals process will be.
“First, I applaud the NFL and players for taking a bold and decisive position on HGH in their 10-year agreement. Now let’s get on with it,” one witness, Pro Football Hall of Famer Dick Butkus, told the committee Wednesday. “The HGH testing process is proven to be reliable. It’s time to send a clear message that performance-enhancing drugs have no place in sports, especially the NFL.”