NFL responds to agent’s statement regarding Robert Mathis


Typically, the NFL says nothing about the suspension of a player for violating the policy regarding performance-enhancing substances.  As a practical matter, this allows the player and/or his agent to offer up to the public a dog-ate-my-homework-style excuse that would then be unchallenged by the NFL.

In the case of Colts defensive end Robert Mathis, the NFL has departed from its usual policy, responding to the statement issued by agent Hadley Englehard.

Englehard called the suspension “unjust and unfair,” explaining that Mathis was taking a fertility drug in order to have another child.  The drug is on the list of banned substances.

“As Mr. Mathis’s agent acknowledged today, his client failed to follow the protocols in the policy that the NFL and NFLPA agreed upon to address precisely these kinds of claims,” the league said.  “That policy also prescribes the disciplinary consequences of a positive test.  The policy does not provide — nor should it provide — for the Commissioner to override the policy’s procedures and assess discipline on an after-the-fact, ad hoc basis. Here Mr. Mathis actually withdrew his appeal and accepted discipline at the union’s suggestion. His hearing took place only after the Players Association requested that the appeal be reinstated.

“The drug for which Mr. Mathis tested positive is not approved by the FDA for fertility in males and is a performance-enhancing drug that has been prohibited for years. Importantly, Mr. Mathis did not consult with the policy’s Independent Administrator, a physician jointly approved by the NFL and NFL Players Association. Nor did he consult with his team doctor, the team’s training staff, the NFLPA, the league office or the hotline established under the policy to give confidential information to players. Each of these sources would have warned against using this substance.

“A cornerstone of the program is that a player is responsible for what is in his body. Consistent application of the policy’s procedures is critical to the integrity of the program.”

With players and/or their agents consistently attempting to win the P.R. battle that necessarily accompanies a suspension for using performance-enhancing substances, it’s good to that the league finally is willing to set the record straight (even if doing so potentially runs afoul of the spirit of the confidentiality provision).  Without that clarification, any player (and, as it seems, every player) can offer up a self-serving explanation that creates the impression the player didn’t actually break the rules.

Even if, you know, he did.

102 responses to “NFL responds to agent’s statement regarding Robert Mathis

  1. The CBA has failed to keep pace with societal developments in law, medicine, and pharmaceuticals. Good job, good effort, Big Labor.

  2. Yup….with a huge caveat. Clomifene is the single most commonly prescribed drug for males with hypogonadism who are trying to conceive.

    It’s “off-label” only because it’s benefit for males was discovered after the patent expired and spending millions of $ to go through the FDA approval process would be pointless and unprofitable for any drug company.

    Mathis broke the rules and he should be suspended, and for all I no he may indeed have taken it entirely for PE purposes (it seems odd though, since hard to detect designer steroids are more effective and there is no testing for HGH). That said, the NFL’s PR spin is….at best…deceitful.

  3. I appreciate the NFL putting this statement out as they clearly have deemed the prescription Mathis was taking as a performance enhancing drug. It gets tiring hearing excuses from pro athletes regarding performance enhancing drugs. No athlete should take any prescription whatsoever without knowing whether or not the makeup of the drug contains any banned substances. It’s as simple as asking the team doctor or connecting your personal doctor with your team doctor in order to find a solution.

  4. They actually are responding to the claims to set the record straight…….I see nothing wrong with this and hope it continues……It will keep the outrageous stories and claims from being made for excuses or justification…….

  5. Aww, come on. This mindless PED witch hunt is silly.

    If he felt he needed a boost he’d just hang out with his owner before the game…

  6. It’s not “FDA Approved” because it has such a limited profit incentive due to small market potential. Again, Goodell is a clown and he’s trying to cover his behind from the backlash he’s received from this. The very little respect anyone had for Rodger, is gone. A guy can get suspended for trying to knock his wife up so his cancer sticken mother can have another grandchild, while Ray Rice gets nothing for knocking his girlfriend out. But hey…congrats Goodell. A real man of integrity you are.

  7. Robert Mathis blames his doctor for prescribing him a fertility drug that’s banned and the NFL says, among other things, the drug has not been approved by the FDA.

    Can a licensed physician even prescribe drugs that haven’t been approved by the FDA?

  8. Sounds like a damage control statement. The NFL is starting to get a little over the top… Aaron Hernandez again, Hardy and guns, Mathis and fertility meds, Johny Football media circus and most of all Michael Sam and his reality show …… its starting to become a circus… can we just play some darn football already? man!

  9. I’ve always thought that a player who publicly talks about his suspension has effectively waived his confidentially rights – good to see the NFL taking the stand they did.

  10. Hence Mathis’ resurgence last year. He was always second fiddle to Freeney and then he suddenly became dominant on his own. Once again something that didn’t make sense, explained by PEDs.

  11. It doesn’t take a drug test for trainers to notice a player is taking PEDs. They would notice right away if the PEDs are any good. The Colts turned a blind eye. That makes the whole organization cheaters.

  12. serves him right! all these physicians and trainers are put in place by the league for players to consult before taking any type of drug. if the player doesnt use them….he is left hung out to dry……………..

  13. As a Colts fan I am running out of ways to defend the team. Quick someone show me a picture of Andrew Luck in a Superman cape again before I begin eyeballing available space on the Patriots bandwagon!

  14. Ouch, Robert. Looks like your agent went a bot overboard grandstanding for you and the league called BS on what we all know was a weak excuse to begin with.

    You might want to fire your agent, because had you simply said “I made a mistake, I inadvertently used a substance I shouldn’t have” and served your 4 games quietly most fans would have let it go.

    Your agent letting you run with this lame excuse and then his calling out the NFL on it, thinking that they simply wouldn’t comment now makes you look much, much worse now that they’ve released this statement. It appears they put much more thought into your suspension than you did your excuse..

  15. Manny Ramirez tried the same excuse. The fertility drug is needed to restart your body making testosterone after a round of steroids.

  16. What sucks is these players get caught after the fact. Maybe the Colts don’t make the playoffs last year without his 19.5 sacks and your team does.

  17. It’s mind boggling how clueless these players are . No one outside of the fans whose team they play for ever believes the ” I didnt know, I forgot, it was mislabeled, it was a technicality, etc.” excuses. The disgust the public has for cheaters is bad enough without them compounding the problem by showing themselves to be liars who also are unable to take responsibility for their own actions.

    People love to see other people fail, but we also love to see people redeem themselves. The best example of that fact is Andy Pettitte. When his name came up in those steroid reports people were all to happy to tear him down. The evil empire had yet another cheater. Everyone could point at him and say ” See they werent great they just had a bunch of cheaters on their team, that’s the only reason they dominated us for a decade”. But then something strange happened. He got up in front of everyone and admitted it. No hesitation or side stepping. He said he did it and not only that but did it knowingly.

    And wow what a difference it made. People went from calling him morally inept to pointing to him as a sort of role model to anyone who gets caught doing something they shouldnt. Now when people talk about the steroid era he’s an afterthought when guys like Clemens(who denied everything, even to congress) are talked about nonstop.

    But yet, player after player who gets caught thinks the smart thing to do is to make up some pathetic excuse like it will some how absolve them. It’s so dumb its funny.

  18. I’m glad that the league is finally willing to defend the suspensions. As far as the confidentiality of the program is concerned, as soon as the player or their agent offers up some lame excuse (adderall, fertility drugs, etc.) they they know is NOT true, the league should be able to counter those false facts with true facts.

  19. Mathis statement that he was just using a male fertility drug for that reason only is now looking very suspicious. I don’t know if he is that Machiavellian or not but if he wins his appeal society better get ready for a NFL baby boom..wink wink

  20. When I first heard this story I believed Mathis. I’m not saying that I no longer do, but if it’s accurate that the medication he’s saying he took for fertility is NOT approved by the FDA for fertility treatment, then it puts a massive kink in his story.

    I can’t see a legit physician prescribing a medication that’s not FDA approved for fertility – there are too many out there that are effective and approved.

    You almost had me Robert. Not buying it now.

  21. Mathis, and Big Colts Fan here. Robert, and the Colts will deal with his mistake. No whining zone, happy for Robert’s family! Seems like that is even more important than football! Robert, standup guy and that will win out.

  22. It’s time to consider lifetime bans on cheaters. If your ability doesn’t allow you to play the game fairly you don’t belong in the game.

  23. In short, his “male fertility” claim is b.s. and he knowingly and intentionally took a performance enhancing drug and got caught.

  24. Mathis had vast amount of resources to seek advice on whether the drug he was going to take was allowed in NFL or not. No-one to blame for his suspension but him.

  25. Maybe Mathis should give us Deacon Jones award to its rightly owner, Robert Quinn.

  26. It was a bad excuse to begin with. It only makes him look worse. Accept the punishment, which is rather lenient, and stop doping.

  27. I’m sorry but these players are expected to be role models and a reflection of a league that children dream about constantly. If you’re good enough to make millions of dollars then you should be smart enough to research the drugs you’re putting in your body. Not to mention, should you really trust a Dr who doesn’t warn you that the drug you’re taking could cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars in suspension time and public humiliation? I’m sure when those 4 game checks add up and don’t get deposited into the bank it’ll make him think more about his bad decision. These players know exactly what they are doing at all times and the fact that he’s claiming ignorance is a huge crock! “The Dr said they were ok”. It takes 5 mins to call the league or your team physician and for them to say no. You made your bed now lay in it. The really bad part is that knowing the league and the teams, he’ll probably get a new contract w/a substantial raise just like richest member of the “Legion of Braun” I mean the “Legion of Fraud” I mean….well you know who I’m talking about!

  28. Mathis and his agent would have been far better off saying nothing. The more they talk, the more he looks like Barry Bonds or Roger Clements.

  29. First he said he failed because his “Johnson didn’t work”. Now the league comes out and says “Nah, you took a PED and you know it”. Now that’s one tough day. Infertile and unavailable.

  30. It’s about time the league responded to these stories that the agents and players come up with. Clomid is a fertility drug… for women.

  31. Just when you think you’ve heard it all. For once I would like to see a player take responsibility. I could respect that.

  32. Mathis is trying to create an elite master-race of awesome pass rushers. Sweeeet.

  33. Robert Mathis doesn’t have a case here. There are so many programs in place for players to communicate what they’re taking. There’s really no excuse for Mathis here.

  34. Anyone who has gone through IVF/fertility treatment knows that Clomid is for women. Maybe Mathis was taking it as sympathy pills for his wife…or he and his agent are lying…..which could it be ?!

  35. Good for the league. I think it should stand up for itself and call out these cheats whenever they try to excuse their way out of a suspension.

  36. If there were 2 NFL’s that were the exact same in every way (except one league allowed PED’s and the other did not)… which one would you watch?

    If i take PED’s I cannot automatically become a Pro athlete. These guys are wonderful as is… add the enhancer and that is just better television.

  37. I feel if a player or his agent makes a statement about why they are suspended, the league should have the right to answer or correct them publicly. That way, if a player says they unwittingly took a banned substance or that they took adderall without getting an exemption or whatever, the league can say what actually happened and fans can know whether the player deliberately cheated or unintentionally broke the rules and thus judge them appropriately.

  38. I commend the NFL for this stand. I can’t say if Mathis took does drugs to help getting pregnant with his wife, but there are procedures put in place for a reason. As listed in this article by the NFL representative, there are so many people he could have asked before doing what he did.

    Athletes need to start understanding that they don’t fit in the same mold as the regular folks. Your DUIs will get national attention, what you put in your body will be scrutinized, and there will be people who want to screw you over and take your money. This is why the NFL has put so many security checks in place for players to excel and still players will find ways to circumvent the policies set for.

    Mathis deserves his punishment and his agent needs to stop making the media rounds and embarrassing themselves. you broke the rules, and now it is time to sit out 4 games.

  39. Great response by the league. All players know to check with the NFL/NFLPA doctors before putting any foreign substances in their body. Mathis made a mistake, his agent cried after the fact, and now he looks like an idiot. Hadley Englehard may be short one client after going public with this, having nothing to gain as the league already ruled and NLFPA told Mathis he has legit grounds to appeal.

  40. come on the hole premise of Mathis’ claim is ridiculous to begin with. So he is now infertile? The last thing NFL players lack is testosterone.

  41. The NFL won the statement with “The drug for which Mr. Mathis tested positive is not approved by the FDA for fertility in males.” Case closed. End of story.

  42. Does anyone else find it funny that an NFL player of all people would claim to be using a fertility drug? It would only be more absurd if it was an NBA player.

  43. Correct me if I am wrong, but didn’t Mathis say in his statement he asked the Dr if the substance was banned, and the Dr said no.

    IF that is the case, I anxiously wait to hear about the lawsuit Mathis vs Doctor.

    If it doesn’t happen, we all know his story is TOTAL BS!

  44. Even if Mathis is telling the truth he should be suspended – essentially every fan knows that you should check before taking new drugs if you play in the NFL- especially anything related to fertility or hormones.

  45. On a side not pointed out that it isnt approved by the FDA for fertility is a red herring/straw man.

    Many many drugs are prescribed for non-approved uses. Once a drug is approved for one thing then doctors are free to use it for other purposes.

    Many frugs are primarily used for purposes which they were not approved for. they never will be approved because it costs money to gain approvl and it increases liability on the drug maker.

  46. For those of you saying it’s not worth it to go through FDA approval for a second usage: That is incorrect. Within, for example, the field of psychology you have companies extending patents with new usage types on their medications CONSTANTLY. Companies will do anything to continue to have exclusive control over their product. The extra 10 years they would have had exclusive rights to “clomid” would have reaped them mountains of profit. It was not pursued because it was not even VAGUELY legitimate to use it in this way, unless of course one is coming off..saaaay a steroid cycle and you need to literally ‘jumpstart’ your hormonal systems. Companies will use ANYTHING to try and extend patents, if it wasn’t done with clomid then it wasn’t even vaguely legitimate to use it in that manner.

  47. Guys… He didn’t go through the league’s doctor so why should his personal doctor be held accountable for not knowing what’s on the League’s banned substance list?

    This is 100% on Mathis’ shoulders. Nobody to blame but himself for not following the League’s protocol.

    As for the FDA, that doesn’t mean a whole lot… my wife’s doctor prescribed her some medicine from England that wasn’t FDA approved for boosting milk production (breastfeeding).

  48. Go research Clomid for boosting fertility and you’ll see it’s only successful a third of the time in males. That’s not the type of success rates a pharmaceutical company wants to tout. It’s much successful for women.

  49. Piped-in music, heat turned up, mysterious noises, rule changes for megahead, the Marvin Harrison shooting questions, the suck for Luck campaign, the deliberate tanking of a season, the constant legal/drug problems involving their owner, the list goes on and on. Biggest cheaters in the NFL.

  50. Players using PED’s are causing harm to themselves and to others, sure have noticed the amount of injuries since they arrived into sports! AP came back from one of the worst football and any normal lifes injuries and had the best season of his career? Brian Cushing best year was rookie season when he used! Ray Lewis used Deer Antler Spray to boost his recoveries from injuries! The Seahawks defense decided to hand out adherol to all of there players! You cannot tell me watching that superbowl you didnt notice every player had a career game that day! Young guys will never get a shot to play with PED’s in sports and will add to the usage with the vets using. Nothing Fair about sports anymore when big contracts for individuals in a team sport are rewarded.

  51. Brandon in Northwest is factually correct. It’s notorious off label drug. His Wife did get pregnant last year.

    Unlike traditional testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) Clomid does not shrink the testicles. Which a lot males prefer. However, it is more successful when used by women. But it also can cause unwanted birth side effects. Which, naturally, means it is the subject of many lawsuits too.

    That being said, Mathis didn’t follow procedures. Im a Colts fan. His fault.

  52. Just because it is not approved by the FDA for a certain use does not mean that drugs don’t get used off label. Hell, plenty of drugs are prescribed by a Doctor for off label conditions.

    According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “Off-label use does not imply improper or illegal use” Unapproved uses of approved drugs: the physician, the package insert, and the Food and Drug Administration: subject review Journal of Pediatrics. 1996;98:143–5

    Prozac is one of the most famous of drugs that have a variety of off label use, including headaches, alcoholism, ASHD, premature ejaculation, quitting smoking, hot flashes and pain management.

    I also know that is prescribed for weight loss. Many women on the clinical trials lost a lot of weight as a side effect. Bad side effect, right???

    Rogaine came about because it was a drug tested for other indications. I think it was used for blood pressure, but one of the side effects was the growth of hair…..and not just on the head, but everywhere….which COULD be a problem

  53. brownsince64 says:
    May 17, 2014 9:37 AM
    come on the hole premise of Mathis’ claim is ridiculous to begin with. So he is now infertile? The last thing NFL players lack is testosterone.
    High testosterone actually inhibits the production of sperm cells. Hence the shrinking of testicles when anabolic steroids are used.

  54. Their are still stupid fans perpetuating the Seahawks using peds . Did you know the last player who was suspended was suspended from usage during the end of the 2012-2013 season . Not a single player suspended in about a year now for peds .

    Including the entire Super Bowl year ! Two for smoking weed and one was suspended for technicality only bc he was playing in Canada and therefore was is the stage three of the drug program whereas his first failed test would have been a warning NOT YEAR LONG SUSPENSIONS as if he failed 4-5 tests like Gordon .

    Their were 0000000 players in tense hawks secondary who played in the playoffs or superbowl who were suspended for peds . NONE, the Seahawks beat the broncos with brains and bronze you always pointing out them as cheaters makes you ill informed and a loser of a fan.

    Richard Sherman was never suspended bc of a major error in the sample process . Player get suspended for tampering (Von miller) you simply can’t just wishfully get out of a ped test unless their were MAJOR MAJOR ERRORS . Such errors that the black and white rules of the nfl won’t suspended you bc it’s clear they messed up . I can think of players such as John
    Moffitt who was suspended for adderall even though he’d had a prescription for about 4-5 years . Why bc it wasn’t filed properly , to get out of a suspension is like winning the lottery type chances it doesn’t happens unless their were issues to begin with .

    The Seahawks are just better than your sorry team. Accept it and accept that the broncos I believe had twice as many player suspended as the Seahawk last season . Let’s continue to use small sample sizes to exacerbate results and point fingers as to why your team sucks or can’t win the big game .

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