A six-month-old Al-Jazeera America report alleging several NFL players’ use of performance-enhancing drugs has sparked the latest public spat between the NFL and NFLPA.
The NFL wants to interview Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison, retired quarterback Peyton Manning, Green Bay Packers linebackers Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers and free-agent linebacker Mike Neal, who were linked to the report. But the NFL Players Association contends there’s no evidence to merit an investigation.
Charlie Sly, the Indiana pharmacist who made the accusations to Al-Jazeera, has recanted his statements about the players, including Manning, who was central to the report.
“It’s not exactly grounds for confidence that they are approaching this investigation with anything other than smoke. They have not provided anything beyond the report to substantiate doing a full-blown investigation. The dance goes on.”
NFLPA’s George Atallah, to NBC Sports Radio’s “ProFootballTalk Live”
“It’s not exactly grounds for confidence that they are approaching this investigation with anything other than smoke,” NFLPA assistant executive director of external affairs George Atallah told NBC Sports Radio’s “ProFootballTalk Live” on Tuesday morning. “They have not provided anything beyond the report to substantiate doing a full-blown investigation. The dance goes on.”
In citing “shared responsibility” by both sides to explore allegations that “could impact the integrity of competition,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy says the league has reviewed records and conducted multiple interviews on the matter. “We have made no such conclusions but the report merits a review, including interviews with the players named,” McCarthy said.
Failure to cooperate with a league investigation could result in a suspension for the players.
The next step, according to Atallah, is making a recommendation to players on how to proceed, but the NFLPA needs more information before doing so.
After the contentious Deflategate investigation involving quarterback Tom Brady that’s still floating in the U.S. Court of Appeals system nearly 18 months after allegations surfaced, the union won’t take the league for their word in this case.
“If this was a league office that had a shred of integrity left, then there would not be this issue at the moment and we would have figured out a way to resolve this,” Atallah told “PFT Live.” “They are not in the business of resolving issues quietly, amicably and in a way that’s best for business. They just are interested in imposing their will any which way they want, and we’re always going to stand up for our players’ rights.”