The NFL isn’t screwing around when it comes to an Al-Jazeera report claiming four NFL players took performance-enhancing drugs.
The league wrote a letter to Green Bay Packers Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers and Mike Neal and Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker James Harrison informing them that they will face discipline if they don’t comply and interview with the league by Aug. 26.
“We cannot accept your unilateral assertion that the cursory, untested statements you have submitted satisfy the players’ obligation,” NFL Senior Vice President of Labor Policy and League Affairs Adolpho Birch wrote i in a letter to the NFL Players’ Association. “Accordingly, the Commissioner has directed that Messrs. Harrison, Matthews, Neal and Peppers be given until Thursday, August 25 to provide interviews. For those players whose interviews do not take place on or before that date, or who fail meaningfully to participate in or otherwise obstruct the interview, their actions will constitute conduct detrimental and they will be suspended, separate and apart from any possible future determination that they violated the steroid policy. 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.”
The letter particularly targets Neal, who Birch claims provided false information in a previous statement about the report.
“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,” Birch wrote. “Rather than eliminate the need for interviews, the players’ plainly deficient statements simply underscore the importance of obtaining their full cooperation.”
So the league has set an ultimatum: Interview, or be suspended. It will be interesting to see how the players respond.