Remember that time Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison said he considered the NFL’s PED investigation of him to be a “done deal?” Those were fun times. And short times.
Because according to USA Today’s Tom Pellissero, the NFL plans to suspend Harrison – plus Mike Neal, Clay Matthews, and Julius Peppers – if they do not comply with the league’s interview request by August 26th, eleven days from now.
Per Pelissero, who broke the news, and the letter he obtained that was sent from the NFL to each player.
“Accordingly, the Commissioner has directed that Messrs. Harrison, Matthews, Neal and Peppers be given until Thursday, August 25 to provide interviews. For those players whose interviews do not take place on or before that date, 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. 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.”
Bottom line: interview by the 25th or you will be suspended and even when you do speak to the league, Roger Goodell will decide when to let you back into the league.
You can read the entire letter at the above link, which I’ll post again here.
This is just another crazy saga as the union and league have attempted to one-up each other. The NFL told the union they would interview each player on the first day of camp. The union responded by sending sworn affidavits in place of an interview. And now the league has taken action to the most extreme degree, a threat of suspension. Of course, the league has the right to enforce its power.
The CBA gives Goodell most of the power and very little ability for the union, and its players, to fight back. The league can simply say the players failed to cooperate, even if they are innocent of the allegations, and use that as enough proof to suspend the player. I hate to say I told you so but it was clear from the start that’s the ax the NFL would wield if it came to that point.
This is the point in the comments where someone notes the Steelers were the only team to vote against the most recent CBA.
It’s likely Peppers and the others will cave and conduct the interview. It would be in Harrison’s best interests to do so, and he is a team player. But he’s as stubborn and principled as anyone and his response to this is unpredictable.
But we have our timeline. Ten days to an interview. Eleven to a suspension. It’ll be interesting.
For all the wrong reasons.