The NFL and James Harrison have agreed on very little throughout his career. But it looks like they’ve come to terms on one thing.
According to The MMQB’s Albert Breer, the league has agreed to meet with Harrison on August 30th in Pittsburgh.
The union and Harrison had sent this proposal to the league but until now, it was unclear if they would accept. The 30th is five days after the NFL’s self-imposed deadline to cooperate but for league has appeared to finally shown some common sense and give up a tiny bit of ground.
This, of course, all stems from their investigation into PED allegations stemming from an Al Jazeera report months ago. The league claims to have evidence beyond what Charlie Sly, who soon after recanted his story, that ties Harrison to PEDs though they have never made any specific evidence available to the union or general public.
They have, however, interviewed and exonerated Peyton Manning, the figure head in the original report.
Had Harrison not cooperated with the league, he would’ve been suspended until he did and then approved by Roger Goodell. Harrison has caved, smartly so, after trying to strong-arm the league by saying he’d only speak to them at his house and with Goodell in attendance. That had a next-to-no chance of working and though it may be admirable to see Harrison stand up for himself, there was nothing he could do to bully the league.
The whole situation illustrates the tension between league and union. A sign of what’s to come when the two sides have to work out a new CBA in 2021. The last agreement nearly wiped out regular season games, ultimately, only the HOF Game was lost – in hindsight, a blessing to the players – and it’s hard to imagine things going smoother this next time around.
It’s quite literally a power struggle; Goodell doing all he can to retain it, the union doing their best to issue checks and balances. It’s going to take quite a concession from the players side to create a fairer playground. Yes, five years is a long time and these incidents won’t be remembered as fiercely by Joe Football Fan, but emotions are sure to come back to a boil in the negotiation room. Ramon Foster has already warned players to save up in case of an impending lockout. Prepare yourselves for a severe lack of football in the next few years.