NEW ORLEANS — A recent survey conducted by the National Football League Players Assn. indicates that a majority of its members are opposed to random urine testing for drug use. The same survey, made public in condensed form during a press conference here Thursday, also seemed to show that players favor some form of free agency.
The two points undoubtedly will be discussed next month in negotiations between the association and the NFL Management Council. Gene Upshaw, NFLPA executive director, said the negotiations are scheduled to begin shortly after the Pro Bowl Feb. 2.
According to the survey, which included responses from about 35 players on each of the 28 league teams, 72.5% said they were against spot checks for drugs. And 87% of the members polled said it was very important to have the freedom to move from one team to another.
"That obviously hasn't been the case in the past in the NFL," said Mark Murphy, association vice president.
Murphy also said the survey indicated that the players consider free agency with NFL owners their first choice of negotiating systems. The players also preferred an arrangement that would reward winning franchises rather the current system, which is to split all league profits equally among NFL teams.
The current collective bargaining agreement, signed in 1982, will end after the 1986 NFL season. But Upshaw said preliminary negotiations are under way. He also said the question of free agency "is the No. 1 priority" among the players. "We have to do something about the restrictive system," he said. "That's what the players are saying."
NFL owners have said a free agency system would hurt the league.
"We'll see if it's going to wreck the system or not," Upshaw said.
The association also has instructed its members to decline participation in postseason testing for drug use. "There is no provision for testing in postseason physicals," Dick Berthelsen, association legal counsel said.
Eight teams asked players to undergo urine testing at season's end, Berthelsen said, listing the St. Louis Cardinals, Buffalo Bills, New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Detroit Lions, Seattle Seahawks, Indianapolis Colts and New York Jets.
"The players definitely are opposed to spot checking," Upshaw said.