SHOWDOWN ON TESTING
The dispute over drugs between the NFL and the NFL Players Association neared a showdown last week. Commissioner Pete Rozelle escalated the battle by announcing his intention to immediately implement a $1 million per year program that calls for each player to submit to two random regular-season urinalysis tests for cocaine, marijuana, opiate, amphetamine and alcohol use. Under the program, a first positive test for substances other than amphetamines would require the player to undergo 30 days of counseling and additional testing at half pay. A second positive test would lead to a 30-day unpaid suspension, and a third would get the player banned from the NFL. Reinstatement of a three-time loser would be at Rozelle's discretion.
The NFLPA objected to Rozelle's unilateral action. Rozelle knew the objection was coming; he had discussed his intentions with union leader Gene Upshaw six days before his announcement. He told Upshaw that he was instituting his drug program because negotiations between the union and the owners hadn't produced one that was satisfactory. He said the program now in effect, which is part of the 1982 collective bargaining agreement and which calls only for preseason testing, was ineffective. He said the NFL constitution empowered him to act against "conduct detrimental to the welfare of the league or professional football." Upshaw claimed Rozelle was pulling an end run around the collective bargaining agreement, which has one more year to go.
Rozelle may have been hoping that, in the aftermath of the cocaine-related deaths of former Maryland basketball star Len Bias and Cleveland Brown safety Don Rogers, the NFLPA membership would be too divided on the drug-testing issue to fully back Upshaw. No such luck. Although a number of players expressed public support for drug testing, the union didn't knuckle under, and on Friday the NFLPA and the commissioner's office agreed to "expedited arbitration" on Rozelle's action. Arbitrator Richard R. Rasher of Philadelphia will hold hearings this month, and his decision is expected in mid-September, in time to institute mandatory testing during the regular 1986 season if he finds for the commissioner.
Rozelle is clearly on the spot. The mere fact that he found himself in binding arbitration a scant four days after announcing immediate implementation of his program can be seen as an embarrassment for him. If he loses, then the embarrassment will be all the greater. But the NFL expresses confidence that the commissioner will win in arbitration.
RALPH KRAMDEN WOULD DIE
The Brunswick Pinbuster Tournament attracted a huge field of 14,000 amateur bowling teams throughout the U.S. and Canada. When all had posted their three-game handicapped scores, two of them—the Gremlins of Jefferson Valley, N.Y., and the Open Hearth Lounge team of Pueblo, Colo.—were even for first place at 3,606 pins. A tiebreaker was held June 21 with the two teams rolling simultaneously on lanes 2,500 miles apart.
The Gremlins held a 72-pin lead after one game, saw it dwindle to 40 after two, then pulled out the match 3,274-3,218. The Open Hearth's five virile young men, all under 33, were mortified. The Gremlins are a team of five women, average age 46. Their spiritual leader is 69-year-old Helen Schirmer—these older women bowlers seem to be everywhere these days (see FACES IN THE CROWD, page 73)—whose 23-year-old granddaughter is also a Gremlin. Schirmer quit bowling in 1978, then started again last year as part of a rehabilitation program for a bronchial condition. Now she's bombing around Jefferson Valley in the championship prize received by each member of the Gremlins, a hot new Dodge Lancer—and the Open Hearth boys are weeping in their beer.
When four runners from Jesuit High School in Carmichael, Calif., became the first high-schoolers to run a distance-medley relay in less than 10 minutes this spring (9:56.3), something about their performance seemed vaguely familiar to New York City track nut Larry Byrne. Byrne, noticing that the final two legs of the record (1,200 and 1,600 meters, respectively) had been run by identical twin brothers Mark and Eric Mastalir, checked his record book. He found that the first team ever to break 10 minutes in the event on any level was from North Texas State Teachers College in 1938. The final two legs of that record-setting relay were also run by twin brothers, Wayne and Blaine Rideout.
NAPOLEON DROPS ANCHOR IN L.A.