Harrison, Matthews, Peppers agree to interviews in NFL's PED probe
The players are between a rock and a hard place when it comes to meeting with the league
Earlier this week, the NFL threatened four players with suspensions if they didn't cooperate with the league's investigation into allegations that they all received performance-enhancing drugs from the Guyer Institute in Indiana. Three of the players are currently on NFL rosters -- Steelers linebacker James Harrison and Packers linebackers Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers -- and Harrison said Tuesday that he was "definitely" prepared to sit over the NFL's interview demands.
But with little leverage, apparently all three players have decided to meet with the league, according to USA Today's Tom Pelissero.
James Harrison, Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers have agreed to interviews in the NFL's PED probe, source said.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) August 18, 2016
(The fourth player, Mike Neal, is currently a free agent. Pelissero reports that he has not agreed to be interviewed.)
According to CBSSports.com NFL insider Jason La Canfora, the Harrison meeting will come on Aug. 28.
NFL investigators, for instance, will meet with James Harrison on Aug 28 in Pittsburgh at or near the Steelers facility— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) August 18, 2016
Last month, Harrison said in an affidavit sent to the NFL by the NFL Players Association that he never violated the league's policy on performance-enhancing drugs, nor has he met the man who alleged to Al Jazeera America that he supplied Harrison with an illegal substance. Harrison has said previously that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell will have to come to his house to interview him, adding that the league must show "credible evidence that warrants an interview."
But the league doesn't have to show "credible evidence," due in part to the collective bargaining agreement, on which the players signed off before the 2011 season. Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers talked about this on the Jim Rome Show on CBS Sports Radio on Wednesday
"It looks bad for the league, especially after Peyton [Manning] got cleared and this thing has been, there's been some holes shot at it, but I'm confident those guys have nothing to hide and they will work something out," Rodgers said. "I just think as far as the league goes, there's been some negative things that have come their way and the way they've responded is maybe not been the best way to handle it."
Of course, part of the issue is that the players allowed Goodell to maintain his power during the last CBA negotiations back in 2011.
"If that is the case, we have nobody to blame but ourselves because we had the opportunity in the CBA to make some legitimate changes to that," Rodgers explained. "I think there's probably too much pressure to come back to a deal when we had all the power on our side and that was something we should have had negotiated into the CBA, because this shouldn't be someone who is judge, jury, and executioner."
Meanwhile, the NFLPA says Harrison has agreed to the interview on a "non-precedential basis," the implication being that it shouldn't have any bearing on future cases.
Here's how the NFLPA is trying to keep this case from bearing on any others, or future requests for cooperation. pic.twitter.com/VKEvPTU9q8— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) August 18, 2016
Harrison conceded earlier this week that the team could factor into his decision.
"I'm sure it would lean me in that direction because I don't want to let my teammates down," Harrison said. "I don't want to let the organization down. We'll deal with that when the time comes."
That time is here and Harrison, with no real options, will do what the league wants.
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