John York questions validity of NFLPA's safety survey

John York questions validity of NFLPA's safety survey
March 19, 2013, 2:45 pm
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I've never seen the survey. There's no one in the NFL who has seen the survey.
—Dr. John York

PHOENIX -- Dr. John York, 49ers owner and chair of the NFL's Health and Safety Committee, questioned the validity of a survey the NFL Players Association cited in January that players do not trust team medical staffs, characterizing the union's survey of players as "nonexistent."

The NFLPA announced results of a survey at the Super Bowl that alleged 78 percent of NFL players do not trust team doctors. The union said only 43 percent of respondents rated team training staffs as "good."

York fired back on Day 2 of the NFL owners meetings.

"I've never seen the survey," York said. "There's no one in the NFL who has seen the survey. I don't know what questions where asked. I have no idea how many players were asked or what the responses were."

York added: "I haven't seen it. The physicians society has asked. The league has asked and attorneys have asked. We have not gotten any kind of a positive response."

When asked specifically whether he believes the survey exists, York answered, "I'm told by (NFLPA chief) DeMaurice Smith it exists, so if I say it doesn't exist, what does that imply?"

In earlier comments, York left very little gray area on the subject.

"We've tried to discuss anything and everything with the union," York said. "But when you have a nonexistent survey that is giving data that is damaging and none of that is shared . . . "

York cited anecdotal evidence that suggests 49ers players are comfortable with the team's medical staff. He said over the past three years, 49ers players have undergone 48 surgeries. Of those players, approximately 40 percent have asked for a second opinion, York said, and all but three had their surgeries performed by the team's medical staff.

Under the terms of the 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement, the NFL and the NFLPA are obligated to collaborate on a survey. Now, that kind of survey will have to wait a while, York said.

"When you report that there is a survey by one of the entities and it is negative, I believe you've muddied the waters so much that you can't turn around in five minutes and do another one," York said. "So there needs to be some passage of time before we can do an honest and accurate survey."

The controversial NFLPA medical survey comes at a time, York said, when commissioner Roger Goodell has emphasized that health and safety issues always take precedent over competitive issues. The league has proposed three rules changes designed for player safety.

"I don't understand it," York said about the NFLPA's release of the survey. "You can understand the frustration."