Usually, the NFL refuses to discuss the details when players are suspended for violating the policy on performance-enhancing substances. But in the case of Colts outside linebacker Robert Mathis, the NFL has had plenty to say.
That’s because Mathis’s agent has had plenty to say: On Friday Hadley Englehard accused the NFL and Commissioner Roger Goodell of acting in an “unjust and unfair” way, and this morning Englehard suggested that the league has misled the public about Mathis’s suspension. That led Adolpho Birch, the NFL’s Senior V.P. of labor policy and government affairs, to appear on Mike & Mike and say that Mathis is suspended for one simple reason: He tested positive for a substance on the NFL’s banned list. Birch added that whether Mathis is telling the truth that he took a banned substance to boost fertility — not to enhance performance — is irrelevant.
“The policy is crystal clear that the player is responsible for what is in his body — that’s by design,” Birch said. “That’s because of the union and the league agreeing that we don’t want to have to make those sorts of decisions. We don’t want to have to judge whether or not this is a reasonable story, this is an unreasonable story, this claim is correct, this claim is incorrect. We want to be able to treat everyone consistently and make sure that first and foremost, we are applying that policy in a way that we feel works to ensure that we eliminate the threat of these types of substances and deter the use of these types of substances in our game.”
Birch noted that the NFL would like to be able to disclose more information than the current policy allows.
“We are limited in what we can talk about with respect to particular cases,” Birch said. “Frankly, I think this is part of the reason we’ve been, as a league, trying to convince the union that we need to be able to talk about particular cases more, particularly when there are public statements made.”
Ultimately, Birch said, the reason for Mathis’s suspension is simple: “This is a result of his failure to comply with the policy.”