The NFL is now facing a massive chemical contamination crisis that could cost it more than $1 billion and cost the sport its reputation as a great source of revenue.
The Associated Press has learned the league is being forced to spend millions of dollars on the test, the testing that it is not supposed to be doing, and the remediation efforts to fix the problem.
“There’s a lot of concern right now about the potential for false positives, but it is the only test that’s going to help us make a determination of the substance,” said Brian McGlashan, the NFL’s chief medical officer, in an interview Tuesday.
“We’ve had some false positives in the past, but the problem is we don’t know what’s the chemical makeup of what’s being tested.”
The league has spent the past few weeks investigating a number of potential cases of false positives linked to a batch of fake football products that it said were being sold by a company that has ties to the North Carolina-based company that makes the synthetic footballs.
The league has also launched a nationwide initiative to help track down and stop those who have created the fake football product.
In addition, the league has hired an independent lab to test its own products.
The league’s efforts are aimed at finding those who are behind the bogus football products and preventing the sale of them, which it has already identified as the source of the contamination.
McGlashans comments Tuesday came amid a wave of concern among the league’s players, including some who said they believe the league was not doing enough to prevent the contamination of its products.
A source told the AP the NFL has been in contact with its players and is preparing for a possible lawsuit from the players.
“It’s not going to be easy, but I think it’s the right thing to do,” linebacker Deion Jones said in an exclusive interview.
“If we can get the product removed from the market, I think that will help the players.”
Jones added, “I hope they can come back and prove that they were not responsible for it, but they were the ones that were buying it.
I’m sure the NFL is going to look into that.”
McGlashes comments Tuesday echoed comments by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who told the Associated Press in May that the league had “serious concerns” about the use of the fake products and that he would not hesitate to sue anyone who created them.
The AP also has learned that the NFL, which is still trying to recover from a $1.6 billion price tag for the counterfeit footballs that were found to contain more than 2,500 different chemicals, is currently being investigated by the FBI and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
It is unclear whether the federal government has reached out to the NFL about the possibility of filing a lawsuit.
A league spokesman declined to comment.
The NFL has already launched a public relations campaign to discourage people from buying the counterfeit products.
The players, who made up nearly 80 percent of the 1.1 million fans who watched Sunday’s game, are not the only ones who have voiced concerns about the contamination and the possible lawsuits.
“If there’s something wrong with our product, the only way to get it fixed is to buy a new one,” defensive end Jared Allen said.
“That’s just crazy.”
Follow Jeff Sherman on Twitter: @JeffShermanAP