NFL Threatens Suspensions for Matthews, Peppers, Harrison over Al Jazeera Documentary

Clay Matthews
The Associated Press

The NFL informed four players named in an Al Jazeera America documentary on performance-enhancing drugs that they must answer questions from the league by a week from Thursday or face automatic suspension.

The league seeks interviews with Green Bay Packers defensive end Julius Peppers, linebacker Clay Matthews, and former linebacker Mike Neal, and Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison. The players deny the charges made in the television documentary.

“For those players whose interviews do not take place on or before [Aug. 25], or who fail meaningfully to participate in or otherwise obstruct the interview, their actions will constitute conduct detrimental and they will be suspended, separate and apart from any possible future determination that they violated the steroid policy,” NFL official Adolpho Birch wrote the players. “The suspension for each such player will begin on Friday, August 26 and will continue until he has fully participated in an interview with league investigators, after which the Commissioner will determine whether and when the suspension should be lifted.”

The league says the players’ union has thwarted seven attempts to interview the veterans named in The Dark Side: The Secret World of Sports Doping.

The league last month completed what it called a seven-month investigation into Peyton Manning based on the documentary’s charges. The inquiry found “no credible evidence” that Manning used performance-enhancing drugs.

The documentary, which aired shortly after Christmas, sparked lawsuits by Major League Baseball players Ryan Howard and Ryan Zimmerman. A month-and-a-half after the documentary’s release, Peyton Manning won his second Super Bowl playing in his last NFL game. Less than four month’s after the documentary’s initial broadcast date, Al Jazeera America signed off the air for good.