On Thursday, reports surfaced that three of the four NFL players mentioned in the 2015 Al-Jazeera America report on performance-enhancing drug use had agreed to the NFL’s demands for interviews prior to the league’s third preseason games. Packers players Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers, along with Steelers linebacker James Harrison, all had reported to set up the meetings in an attempt to satisfy the league’s ultimatum.*
* Note that Harrison insisted on the meeting being held on August 29th, after the mandated deadline that the league had set.
Today, USA Today’s Tom Pelissero reported word that the two Packers have filed letters to the NFL proposing the time and place of the meetings. Both players have agreed to meet prior to the league’s August 25th requirement:
In their letters to NFL, Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers proposed date next week at #Packers HQ -- before Aug. 25 deadline, source said.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) August 19, 2016
Sounds like next Wednesday, Aug. 24, for Matthews/Peppers interview with NFL investigators in Green Bay. NFL hasn't responded to letters yet— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) August 19, 2016
The Packers do not have a practice scheduled for that date, making it arguably the best time for the players to conduct the interviews. Therefore, at the present time, it appears that neither player will be subject to the league’s threat of exercising Article 46 of the collective bargaining agreement to suspend them for “conduct detrimental.” The league could push back on Harrison, however, due to the date of his meeting being set after the deadline.
Adding to the intrigue is that former Packer Mike Neal - the only free agent among the group and the only one of the four players who had not agreed to an interview as of Thursday’s report - has also agreed to interview. It turns out that the NFLPA will not have one of its members test this request in court after all.
It will be a positive for the Packers and for Matthews and Peppers in particular to have this saga over and done with after next week. However, it remains disappointing that the NFL felt the need to resort to these scare tactics over a report which has been recanted by its initial source.