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NFL: Either talk about claims or face suspension

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The NFL season is still a few weeks until it begins and there may be people who may not be playing when their team opens their season. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the NFL is threatening discipline that may include suspension for players who are refusing to cooperate with the league’s investigation into steroid claims that were made by Al-Jazeera America. The players who this pertains to are Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison, Green Bay Packers linebackers Clay Mathews and Julius Peppers and former Packers linebacker Mike Neal.

They have until August 25th to comply with the league’s requests for interviews, according to an NFL letter that was sent to the NFLPA and was obtained by ESPN. Vice President of Labor Policy and league affairs Adolpho Birch wrote the league has a good feeling for the investigating the potential violations of the NFL’s drug policy. However, the league has made several unsuccessful attempts to interview these players.

Adolpho Birch said, “For those players whose interviews do not take place before or on August 25th, or who fail to participate, or obstruct the meeting will receive some punishment like a suspension, which would be separate from the possible penalty for violating the steroid policy. If a player is suspended, it will begin on August 26th and continue until the player is willing to participate in an interview with league investigators. At that point, it will be up to the discretion of the commissioner’s office to determine when and whether the suspension should be lifted.

The NFLPA contends that there is no evidence to merit an investigation. Charlie Sly, the Indiana pharmacist who originally made the claims to Al- Jazeera, has now recanted his statements about the players. One of the biggest names that he claimed was using steroids was recently retired Quarterback Peyton Manning, who happened to be the central person in the report and will not be punished by the league after he was willing to cooperate with investigators.

The players have an obligation to submit to an interview with the NFL, but also they have the duty to provide meaningful responses to the questions posed,” said Birch. The NFLPA has issued statements to the NFL on behalf of the players who were being mentioned in the claims. In a statement, Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison denied any usage of performance-enhancing drugs, and as he recently wrote in USA Today, the allegations in the Al-Jazeera were flimsy.

Harrison has declined to comment on the matter during training camp. Clay Mathews, another player who was mentioned in the report, was asked about the matter during camp. He called the claims, “ bogus.” There was no comment from the other people involved.

I am not sure how much of a black eye this will put on the sport. Other than baseball, it seems that no one reacts majorly to the NFL, NHL, or NBA when steroids are found. I guess it’s because of how inconsistent they are found.

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Robert D. Cobb
Founder, Publisher and CEO of INSCMagazine. Works have appeared and featured in places such as Forbes, Huffington Post, ESPN and NBC Sports to name a few. Follow me on Twitter at @RobCobb_INSC, email me at robert.cobb@theinscribermag.com