NEW ORLEANS — NFL commissioner Roger Goodell says he believes there will be an agreement soon with the players’ union for testing for human growth hormone.
At his annual state of the NFL news conference on Friday, Goodell said he expects an agreement for the tests to be reached in time for the start of the 2013 season.
On the subject of player safety, Goodell said it’s “all of our responsibilities.”
Not surprisingly, given that thousands of former players are suing the league about its handling of concussions, the topics of player health and improved safety dominated Goodell’s 45-minute session.
“I’ll stand up. I’ll be accountable. It’s part of my responsibility. I’ll do everything,” Goodell said. “But the players have to do it. The coaches have to do it. Our officials have to do it. Our medical professionals have to do it.”
DEER ANTLER SPRAY: The man who reportedly supplied Ray Lewis with deer antler spray can’t confirm the Baltimore Ravens linebacker ever used the stuff.
Sports Illustrated reported on Tuesday that Lewis sought help from a company called Sports With Alternatives To Steroids (SWATS), which says its deer-antler spray and pills contain a naturally occurring banned product connected to human growth hormone.
Mitch Ross spoke for nearly an hour outside the Super Bowl media center on Friday in a bizarre session that revealed very little about his connection with Lewis. The linebacker has denied ever using the substance.
Asked if Lewis ever tried deer antler spray, Ross said, “I never saw him put it in his mouth.”
Ross said some Ravens players used his “performance chips” in the playoffs. Those are not banned by the NFL.
PENSION FRAUD: A Detroit-area woman pleaded guilty to fraud after illegally collecting money from an NFL pension plan years after her father’s death.
Constance Helwig-Langlois is the daughter of John Helwig, who played defense for the Chicago Bears in the 1950s. He died in 1994, but pension checks kept coming until fall 2011.
The government says Helwig’s wife told the NFL retirement plan that he was still alive. When she died in 2007, their daughter kept the scheme going. Helwig-Langlois pleaded guilty on Thursday.
REPORT DENIED: Running back Arian Foster said he has not spoken with his doctors about “any surgery,” disputing a report that he was likely to undergo a heart procedure in about a month.
“I am feeling well and am as exuberant as ever,” he said in a statement Friday.
The NFL Network reported on Thursday that Foster was considering an ablation procedure because of a heart condition that forced him from a game late this season. Such a procedure involves use of a catheter to correct structural problems that can lead to an abnormal heartbeat, according to the Mayo Clinic’s website.
“As of now, I have no complications with my blood pumper,” Foster said. “There was a casual conversation with a reporter about my particular condition that turned public. But I have not, nor do I plan to any time in the near future, have conversations with my doctors about any surgery.”
During the third quarter of Houston’s 23-6 loss to Minnesota on Dec. 23, Foster left the game because of an irregular heartbeat. Coach Gary Kubiak said Foster also experienced the problem in a practice.
The NFL Network reported that Foster said he’s known about his heart issue since he was 12 years old.
Texans general manager Rick Smith said in a statement Friday that the team is “comfortable” with the health of their 26-year-old running back.
“Our medical team continues to monitor it,” Smith said. “He missed one-half of a practice and one-half of a game, and our doctors treated him.”
Foster rushed for 1,424 yards and 15 touchdowns in 2012. He was invited to the Pro Bowl for the third time in his three full NFL seasons.
An undrafted free agent in 2009, Foster worked his way up from the Texans’ practice squad to become the NFL’s leading rusher in 2010 (1,616 yards). Last March, Foster signed a five-year, $43.5 million contract.