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Matthews, Harrison, Others Given PED Interview Ultimatum

In an attempt to speed up its investigation into alleged PED use, the NFL has announced it will suspend the four active players at the center of the scandal if they fail to make themselves available for interview by August 25.

Green Bay Packers pass rushers Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers, former Packer (and current free agent) Mike Neal, and Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison have all been publicly advised of this ultimatum.

Last year, Al Jazeera America documentary The Dark Side implicated those four players as well as former player Peyton Manning. The NFL closed its separate PED investigation on Manning in July, following confirmation that he had fully cooperated by providing the NFL with both interviews and access to relevant records.

A persistent failure of the other players to assist has forced the league’s hand, according to a letter from NFL senior vice president of labor policy and league affairs, Adolpho Birch, to the NFLPA. The key extracts are summarised below:

“Since January the league has made at least seven attempts to arrange interviews of Messrs. Harrison, Matthews, Neal and Peppers.  On each occasion, the NFLPA has communicated the players’ refusal to participate.  Most recently, the NFLPA has attempted to prevent the interviews by submitting for each player a half-page statement.”

“The statements, however, are wholly devoid of any detail, and we were quickly able to determine that Mr. Neal’s statement includes an assertion that is demonstrably false.  Rather than eliminate the need for interviews, the players’ plainly deficient statements simply underscore the importance of obtaining their full cooperation. The suspension for each such player will begin on Friday, August 26 and will continue until he has fully participated in an interview with league investigators, after which the Commissioner will determine whether and when the suspension should be lifted.”

Two key takeaways: first, the NFL has quite obviously grown tired of its employees attempting to duck and weave their responsibilities. Second, any man who feels like testing the league’s patience will have to answer to judge, jury and executioner Roger Goodell.

Tom Brady took up that challenge and finally surrendered out of sheer exhaustion. Perhaps these players should learn from his mistake and face the music. If they truly have nothing to hide – like Mr. Harrison has so vehemently exclaimed on many occasions – so much the better.

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