Back in December, an Al Jazeera America report alleged that several NFL players (Peyton Manning, James Harrison, Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers, Mike Neal) had been involved in the use of performance enhancing drugs. The basis for the report was the testimony of Charlie Sly, who quickly recanted everything he said. Still, the NFL felt the allegations warranted an investigation.
Part of that investigation included demanding that all players consent to an in-person interview with league officials to address the allegations or else face a suspension, despite the fact that there was no qualifying evidence under the league’s performance enhancing drug policy to mandate such interviews. The players at first refused to consent to the interviews, but eventually relented. Manning, as well as three of the four active players (Harrison, Matthews, and Peppers) have been cleared by the NFL.
Matthews, though, is worried. Not about whether the NFL will for some reason reverse its decision, but about an alarming trend that every disciplinary issue has become a tug of war between the league and the NFLPA.
“That’s why we stuck strong with the PA in regards to this,” Matthews said, per the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “Just because it sets a dangerous precedent. I think this is something that’ll come up within the next negotiations, CBA negotiations. It’s a very dangerous precedent.”
Matthews being worried about the precedent is interesting because, in a memo obtained by USA Today in August, NFLPA general counsel Heather McPhee specifically informed the NFL that Harrison’s interview was being agreed to “on a non-precendential basis because of Mr. Harrison’s professional decision in this situation to respond to an employer who has failed in its obligations to him, and he and the NFLPA reserve all rights regarding any future action the NFL may attempt to take in this matter.”
The memo in question was in regards to Harrison, but it seems safe to assume that similar letters were likely sent on behalf of the three Packers players. The NFLPA wouldn’t be doing its job very well if they weren’t.
No matter what the memo said, though, it has become clear over the last couple of years that the NFL intends to use its Article 46 (conduct detrimental) power whenever and however it pleases, and to any end it deems necessary.
Source: CBS Sports / Clay Matthews says Al Jazeera PED interviews set ‘a dangerous precedent’