When an Al-Jazeera report was released in the middle of the 2015 NFL season, several big-named players were indicted in their participation with Performance Enhancing Drugs (PED). Among those were recently retired quarterback Peyton Manning, Green Bay Packers linebackers Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers and Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison.
Despite the report being recanted shortly after it's release, the NFL still plans on investigating the players mentioned in the report, including Harrison.
While the NFL coming after Harrison should come as a shock to no one, Harrison's agent Bill Parise said the NFL might, or might not, be interviewing his client before training camp in a few weeks. Parise said the league must "show reason for an investigation.''
"And so the NFLPA sent them a letter (earlier this month) basically saying, ‘Tell us what your reason is because we don't think there is one,' '' Parise told Chris Adamski of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "And the letter (that became public today) from the NFL is the response to that letter. Basically what they're saying is, ‘We don't have to tell you (why), and we're going to interview them anyway.' But I really don't think that's going to happen. So we'll wait and see."
This is where the direction of the investigation leaves Harrison, Matthews and Peppers, and turns into an NFL vs. NFLPA issue.
The NFLPA's assistant executive director of external affairs, George Atallah, issued a statement late Friday saying, "The NFL has chosen to initiate an investigation of these players based upon now-recanted statements that appeared in an Al-Jazeera report.
"The NFLPA requested from the NFL any additional evidence supporting an investigation of the players; the NFL did not provide any such evidence,'' Atallah said. "Nor did they inform the NFLPA or the players that any such evidence exists. Instead, the NFL has decided to publicly pressure the players into submission. We will continue to advise our players about their rights and hold the NFL accountable."
As for Harrison's involvement in the proceedings, Parise is still hesitant to say whether there will be any actual investigation for these reports.
"I do understand there's a process ... and you want the facts exposed, so to speak," Parise said. "But when you have no legitimacy at all (in a report), you're probably better served to walk away from this thing. If every crazy person jumps up and says something and we spend millions looking into it ..."
"Think about how this interview would go," Parise said. " ‘Do you know this guy?' ‘No.' ‘You ever bought anything from him?' ‘No.' ‘You take anything?' ‘You just drug-tested me. You know that. No.'
"Think about the absurdity of it all."
Regardless of individual opinions, this report doesn't seem as if it will be going anywhere anytime soon.