NFL players ratified the new 10-year collective-bargaining agreement on Thursday, marking the official end of the labor fight.

Two people familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press that the contract allows the NFL to eventually become the first major U.S. professional sports league to use blood testing for human growth hormone. They spoke on condition of anonymity because no formal announcement had been made about the details of the labor agreement.

Players would be subject to random testing for HGH, in addition to annual checks — as is the case for all banned substances in the league’s drug-testing program — only after the union is confident in the way the testing and appeals process will work.

“We have to see if we agree with the test,” Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Rashean Mathis said. “If we agree with the test, then it’s legit. If not, they have to come up with another one.”

The aim is to have everything worked out in time to start HGH testing by week one of the regular season, but that is not guaranteed.

When the union informed the league that the NFLPA’s team reps voted to approve the final agreement, it meant players who signed contracts July 26 or after — and had been forced by NFL rules to sit out practices for days — could join teammates in drills Thursday, as the new “league year” officially began.

“We were like little kids in Pop Warner who didn’t make weight, just standing around,” said quarterback Donovan McNabb, who restructured his contract when he was traded to Minnesota by Washington. As a final, formal step, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith will sign the agreement this morning on the front steps of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

 


OTHER NEWS 
EAGLES’ PATTERSON MAY NEED BRAIN SURGERY: Philadelphia defensive tackle Mike Patterson has a brain condition that may require surgery, says Eagles trainer Rick Burkholder. Patterson, 27, was hospitalized after suffering a seizure Wednesday morning at training camp. Patterson’s agent, J.R. Rickert, disputed the definite diagnosis. 

EDWARDS JOINS 49ERS: Receiver Braylon Edwards took the field a little late on his first day, but the 49ers didn’t mind after signing him to a $3.5 million, one-year deal.

EX-CHIEF NOW A RAVEN: The Baltimore Ravens and safety Bernard Pollard have agreed to a two-year contract. Pollard played for the Chiefs during 2006-08.

INJURY REPORT: Cowboys cornerback Terence Newman, who played at Kansas State, will miss the entire preseason for the second time in four seasons because of a groin injury. … Wide receiver Plaxico Burress, who recently signed with the Jets after serving 20 months in prison on a gun charge, will be sidelined a day or two after he tweaked his left ankle Wednesday. … Raiders running back Darren McFadden will be sidelined about two weeks because of a broken orbital bone in his face. … Eagles defensive end Victor Abiamiri could miss the season after tearing his Achilles’ tendon Tuesday.

FIRST-ROUNDERS SIGN: Colorado offensive lineman Nate Solder, the 17th overall pick in the draft, signed with New England. … The Chargers and Illinois defensive end Corey Liuget, the 18th overall pick, have agreed to terms. … The only unsigned first-round pick is Nebraska cornerback Prince Amukamara, who was drafted by the Giants.

COTCHERY CUT BY JETS: The Jets released receiver Jerricho Cotchery, apparently clearing the way for free agent Derrick Mason to sign.

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