It’s yet to be seen whether or not Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison will oblige the league’s request to interview him concerning the steroid use accusations. On Tuesday, however, the 38-year old veteran responded to the NFL’s interview request with a sworn affidavit, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.
In his affidavit, Harrison denies ever knowing Charles Sly, a Texas-based pharmacist, who accused several high profile NFL players of purchasing human growth hormones from him in an Al Jazeera investigation several months ago.
Harrison also states in his affidavit that he’s never violated the NFL’s performance-enhancing substance policy.
A few weeks ago, Harrison said that he would oblige the league’s request to interview him provided it took place prior to the start of training camp, at his house and with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell present. Since than, however, Harrison has appeared to back off of that at the request of the NFLPA, who have been insisting that the NFL provide them evidence as to why they need to interview the accused players.
In his latest letter to the league, Harrison declines to be interviewed without more evidence being provided.
NFLPA associate general counsel Heather McPhee explained in the cover letter that was included with Harrison’s signed affidavit that neither the CBA nor the league PED policy indicate that a player “must agree to an in-person interview based upon random, baseless verbal remarks or face discipline for a failure to cooperate with a league investigation.” McPhee goes on to say that the NFLPA and Harrison “have simply asked the NFL to meet its obligation as a responsible, sophisticated employer to perform rigorous due diligence prior to demanding interview[s] with employees.”
The league has since replied to the NFLPA and stated that Harrison and others could ultimately face discipline from the league should they fail to comply with their interview requests.
Harrison’s sworn affidavit is definitely a different twist in this saga but I doubt the NFL will accept it in lieu of him meeting with them. Initially, the league requested to interview Harrison on July 28, the day the Steelers are to report to Saint Vincent College in Latrobe for the start of training camp.