NFL, union talk bounties, HGH

Updated: April 17, 2012, 10:27 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

NEW YORK -- New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees says there was no real progress Monday when the NFL Players Association and the league discussed the Saints' bounty program at the league's offices Monday.

"We didn't get any meaningful evidence, or any meaningful truth or facts," Brees told NFL.com after the meetings.

Brees, former New Orleans linebacker Scott Fujita and players union head DeMaurice Smith represented the NFLPA as the sides discussed numerous issues, including HGH testing.

Also on hand was NFL Players Association president Domonique Foxworth, who was elected to that position last month.

"It's mostly coincidental that Drew and Scott are here, they're also executive committee members, so they're here to serve their duties as executive committee members, not necessarily as members of the Saints," Foxworth told NFL.com of the meetings with various league executives. "Obviously Drew is, and Scott was a member of the Saints, that's true. But their capacity here is as executive committee members."

Fujita, now with the Browns, was with the Saints in 2009 when the pay-for-pain bounty pool grew as large as $50,000 and the team won the Super Bowl.

Browns coach Pat Shurmur said on a conference call with Cleveland media Monday that Fujita missed the team's first offseason training session because he was in New York.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is expected to soon punish players for their roles in the program that got Saints coach Sean Payton suspended for 2012. Between 22 and 27 current and former Saints defenders were involved, according to the league investigation.

The NFL investigation found that Payton initially lied about the existence of a bounty program and instructed his defensive assistants to do the same.

The Saints have been fined $500,000 and stripped of two second-round draft picks. General manager Mickey Loomis is suspended for the first eight games of the upcoming season, while interim head coach Joe Vitt -- who took over that role Monday as Payton began his suspension through the Super Bowl -- will be barred for the first six regular-season games.

Former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who oversaw the bounty system in which opponents were targeted for hits that could sideline or injure them, is suspended indefinitely. He left New Orleans in January to become defensive coordinator in St. Louis.

Williams has apologized for his role in the bounty program.

The league's initial investigation found that Williams' bounty system offered off-the-books cash payments of $1,500 for "knockouts," in which an opposing player was knocked out of a game, or $1,000 for "cart-offs," in which an opponent needed help off the field.

Further complicating matters, an audio tape was recently released that captured Williams imploring his team to target specific San Francisco 49ers players for injury in this year's NFL division playoffs. The union released a statement Monday acknowledging that it received a copy of the recording before the tapes became public on April 4.

Sources told ESPN senior NFL analyst Chris Mortensen on Sunday that Fujita provided the NFLPA with the details of Williams' speech and the tape that independent filmmaker Sean Pamphilon had made accessible to him.

However, Brees told NFL.com that discussions of the Saints' bounty program did not occur until the very end of Monday's meeting and Foxworth told the website that there were a multitude of other issues discussed.

"There are several different concerns facing the union going forward, and we have a few issues that needed to be resolved, in altering the CBA to some degree," Foxworth said. "We talked about a ton of things, from workers comp issues all the way to Pro Bowl competitiveness and relocation. We did touch on the Saints issue towards the end, but that wasn't chief concern of today's meeting."

That included the ongoing saga of testing for human growth hormone, which Foxworth told NFL.com was "number one" on the list of topics covered Monday.

"We did discuss HGH testing, and that is somewhere where we're making some progress," Foxworth said. "So today's meeting was productive in quite a few ways."

Last summer, the NFL announced it would begin testing for the drug, but the union had to approve the process. The players have yet to do so, citing uncertainty about the detection methods and appeals process.

The sides have been stalemated on HGH testing ever since and Foxworth was non-committal when asked if there would be HGH testing in 2012.

"I can't put a definite answer on that. We're moving forward and it's something that's important to both sides," Foxworth told NFL.com "We want a healthy and safe game, and one thing that's paramount in our minds is presenting a great image for youth that want to be like us. That's motivated a lot of our decisions, and most of our health and safety initiatives, and HGH testing falls right in line with that."

Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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