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Report: NFL schedules interviews with Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers in PED investigation

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The league is taking last year’s Al Jazeera report seriously, even as the main witness has recanted his statements.

NFL: Green Bay Packers-Training Camp Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

During the 2015 football season, Al-Jazeera America released the details of an investigation into performance-enhancing drugs in the NFL. Mentioned by one of the network’s informants were the names of three Green Bay Packers players - Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers, and Mike Neal.

While Neal remains a free agent, Matthews and Peppers remain under contract with the Packers and will report to training camp on July 25th, with the team’s first practice being held on July 26th. Now, according to a report from Tom Pelissero of USA Today, the NFL has informed those players through the NFLPA that they will be interviewed on the first day of training camp.

Pelissero’s source revealed a letter written by a high-level NFL executive to a member of the players’ union, which holds some strong language about the NFLPA. Among the phrases used in that letter are the following:

  • “Despite multiple requests the NFLPA has failed to respond, except to seek reconsideration of the basis for the investigation”
  • “This continuing delay and avoidance has obstructed our ability to conduct and conclude the investigation.”
  • “The interviews of Messrs. Peppers, Matthews and (Steelers LB James) Harrison will be scheduled for the first day of their respective training camps.”

The NFLPA is likely to continue to question whether the league has standing to pursue this investigation under the CBA, but for now the NFL plans to go ahead with their interviews.

With so little known about how or why Matthews, Peppers and company were mentioned in this report, it seems unlikely that there will be enough evidence for the league to reasonably suspend them for any violations of the CBA’s performance-enhancing substance policy. However, as we have seen in the league’s protracted legal battles with Tom Brady of the New England Patriots, they are undoubtedly prepared to do whatever they feel is appropriate given the information they obtain. Packers fans should be prepared for anything at this point.