NFL says Robert Mathis violated “crystal clear” policy

Getty Images

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.”

50 responses to “NFL says Robert Mathis violated “crystal clear” policy

  1. The policy is very clear-

    “When juicing illegally, try not to double or triple your statistical highs of the past 7 years at 33 years old as to draw such blatent attention on your idiot self.” NFL Rule 1.45.84(b)(6)(2)

  2. Mathias danced to the music, now he has to pay to the piper. I would hope that some common sense and leniency would be used in his case. I’m not a Colts fan, but Goodell has discretion to go light on him, if he wants to.

    His violation may be clear cut, but what about his boss, Mr. Irsay? Has he been suspended 4 games yet and his buddy Haslem, what’s his penalty?

  3. If you’re a multi-millionaire football player, you should be smart enough to know what you can put in your body. If your not wanting those millions then play dumb and do whatever you want. Clearly Mathis chose the later.

  4. I smell a rat from the league office on this one.

    At some point, the league is going to have to start handling these cases consistently. There was no intent on Mathis part to cheat the system, and everybody knows that.

    If Richard Sherman can get a pass on violating the league’s policy for taking Adderall, the league is going to need to explain why the Mathis suspension should be handled any differently.

  5. Before popping a pill or injecting yourself with a needle, how hard is it to pause for a sec and say, “wait, is this on the banned substance list” before jeopardizing your career?

  6. What we have here is a failure to communicate.

    I don’t like this from the perspective of a human being and as a fan. There are reasons and excuses, and Mathis clearly had a reason and Goodell, who wants to be the JJE (judge, jury & executioner) told him “No bones. You are suspended 4 games.” He didn’t take steroids, but what the NFL has deemed a masking agent which masks the usage of other drugs that a person is taking, but it doesn’t mean that a player is taking any steroids.

    They say that players are responsible for whatever the put in their bodies, but if they dont’ have to put the ingredients on the label a player could just as easily have a supplement tested and one batch passes the NFL testing and the next time he buys that same supplement it comes up dirty.

    There is a difference between a reason and an excuse. If a person is late for work because of a 20-car pile up on the freeway – that is a reason. However, if a person is late because they overslept – that is an excuse. One should be repremanded and one should not be, but as long as Goodell is JJE they will both get the same punishment. Now we all know why the NFLPA won’t sign on for Goodell to be JJE on the HGH testing.

  7. qdog112 says:
    May 19, 2014 10:27 AM
    Mathias danced to the music, now he has to pay to the piper. I would hope that some common sense and leniency would be used in his case. I’m not a Colts fan, but Goodell has discretion to go light on him, if he wants to.

    His violation may be clear cut, but what about his boss, Mr. Irsay? Has he been suspended 4 games yet and his buddy Haslem, what’s his penalty?

    In the case of any player falling into legal trouble, the league always waits until the courts have handled the case before any punishment is handed out. The only times a player faces immediate punishment is when they break league rules. And even in those cases, the appeals process has already been played out before it is made public.

    So, making comments on punishing Irsay or Haslem at this point is silly. Wait until their cases are settled…. just like every player.

  8. The stupidity of the parallel between the owner’s use of illegal substances and the player’s use of PEDs is amazing. Do schools teach any logic these days?
    The PED issue is about keeping the athletic field balanced and the record books honest. That said, most fans are well aware that almost all NFL players are using all sorts of PEDs. But the owner’s use of any substance in no way affects play on the field. The parallel is pathetically wrong on every level.

  9. The medicine is on the list of BANNED substances. Just because your fertility doctors says it’s okay to take it, does not mean it is. There are distinct rules about certain things when it comes to this. They know that anything drug/vitamin etc. related MUST be checked by the team doctor or the league itself before putting it in your body. I don’t see where any confusion beyond that lies? He didn’t check, it was banned, he got suspended. End of story.

  10. How about the fact that a suspension is from a 2nd failed test?

    I am not excusing Irsay but even the players don’t get suspended with the 1st test, they get put in the program where they get tested more.

    Mathis has already failed 1 or more tests, so with regards to leniency, that is usually reserved for a first offense.

  11. Yup, no matter the reason, you failed the test and ingested a banned substance without consulting the numerous avenues available to either get a pass or check the legitimacy. If his reason is the real reason, it truly is a shame for him, but he still broke the rules fair and square.

  12. 1) The suspension is justified. Rules are rules, and the point about not wanting to have to sort through “I did it because. . .” stories is a valid one.

    2) On a human level, I wish nothing but the best for Mr. Mathis and his wife. Infertility is a painful thing, and hopefully they can eventually have the child they are obviously longing for

  13. Mathis’s intent is not the issue. Also, if he was using the banned substance in order to gain an edge wouldn’t he claim he was using it for fertity reasons? The league is not claiming they know or care why he took the substance. The only thing that matters to them is that he took a banned substance. He choose to take the substance and not properly communicate it with the league.

  14. The agent should just stop talking. Mathis violated leage policy… End of story. Mathis is lucky the league can’t say much more. There is no way an 11 year vet didn’t know he was taking a banned substance, so why would he take it without informing the league? He was trying to get away with it. There is no other good explanation except that Mathis is really stupid, which he isn’t.

  15. The “second test” is testing the split of the first sample that was taken
    For example 4 ounces collected would be split into two samples. One test is tested. If that turns up positive the second sample is tested.
    If the first test is negative, nothing happens to the second sample.
    It isn’t like waiting a few weeks/months whatever for a second test to be taken.

  16. It really isn’t rocket science. Testing has been around long enough that if there is ANY doubt whatsoever, you check with the league, period.

    And the fact that you can get exceptions if you check with the league BEFORE the fact makes taking it without checking (by a veteran who should know better) mind boggling.

  17. We can clear this all up in a few seconds. Just have Mathis authorize the league to release all the information on his case and we’ll see for ourselves. Something tells me he won’t…….

  18. This is an easy case. All he had to do was get prior approval…but her didn’t. The drug is clearly banned by the NFL and WADA.

    From Wiki:

    Recreational use[edit]
    Clomifene is commonly used by male users to bind the estrogen receptors in their bodies, thereby blocking the effects of estrogen, such as gynecomastia. It also restores the body’s natural production of testosterone.[18] It is included on the World Anti-Doping Agency list of illegal doping agents in sport.[19]

  19. The NFL needs to continue fighting loud and aggressive against juicers excuses and juicing.

    These excuses that athletes/athletes agents use are so old that they are actually insulting America’s intelligence (behind their uninformed backs).

    This ‘dirty supplement’, ‘fertility drug’, ‘lawyering a positive’ BS doesn’t fly anymore in Europe.

    90% of American sports fans need to enter the 21st century.

  20. Isn’t there a procedure to get a waiver to take certain medications on the banned substance list? I know some guys are allowed adderral. If so, Mathis and his agent need to shut their pie holes. If not, they have a legitimate complaint.

  21. Mathis’ liquored up lawyer mouthed off and made it personal to the NFL commissioner. I hate Goodell as much as every other red-blooded football fan, but the NFL’s response was great. The lawyer is on a PR spin job campaign to *try* to win the hearts and minds of some of the more gullible fans by coming out swinging. However, this tactic has failed miserably and his client looks even MORE guilty by taking a female fertility drug ala Brian Cushing.

  22. bigjdve says:
    May 19, 2014 10:41 AM
    How about the fact that a suspension is from a 2nd failed test?

    I am not excusing Irsay but even the players don’t get suspended with the 1st test, they get put in the program where they get tested more.

    Mathis has already failed 1 or more tests, so with regards to leniency, that is usually reserved for a first offense.
    18 Thumbs up and no thumbs down??? Are there that many of you that are without knowing how the policy works? For PED’s you are suspended 4 games for the 1st offense. If it is substance abuse…Weed, cocaine, alcohol…you are entered into a program, and the 2nd offense is a suspension. Geesh!!

  23. Why are there people on this thread who automatically believe the agent’s story that the drugs were for fertility and not to boost testosterone?

    I’ll admit that I don’t know why Mathus took it, but you don’t know either.

    In the absence of anyone knowing WHY you took it, that’s why you revert to the LETTER OF THE LAW to be 100% fair and square.

    If the agent spent as much time checking with the league before hand about the banned substance as he is whining about it after the fact, his client wouldn’t be suspended four games.

    This leads me to believe that Mathus and his agent are lying about the intent for taking the drug.

  24. Why would anyone defend Mathis? It’s the rule, one bargained by the union. This is simple. Why didn’t he ask the NFL if he could take it? Is he not smart enough?

  25. @elgranderojo79–
    Yes, there is such a mechanism. It’s called a therapeutic use exemption. If a player has a legitimate reason for taking a medication that is on the banned substances list, he can supply the info to the league and be permitted to use it. The procedure has been there as long as drug testing has, and every player knows it.

  26. Take your four game suspension and be quiet. Heck- in this demanding league, taking the first four games off gives you an advantage the rest of the season.

  27. Some fans are naive and belive the agents female pregnancy medication story when Clomid well known PCT after a steroid cycle. Meaning it was used to get his body to start producing its own testosterone after his system shut from PED use. NFL put Mathis’ story on blast twice.

  28. How do some of u know Mathis wasn’t trying to cheat the system? That is the argument you will run up against every time… I don’t know why Mathis took this drug, I just know it was a banned substance in the NFL, because cheaters use it. Even if his doctor backs up his claim, they can still be paid to do so.

  29. “they wanted to give his mother ANOTHER grandchild “. Does anyone believe this excuse? Maybe a first, but not for another.

  30. amazed on the daily basis by how stupid the average fan is.

    Owners, such as Irsay, do not play the game. They do not risk the health of other players by using banned substances.

    you class warfare morons need to get over the fact million dollar athletes are tested, and millionaire owners are not.

  31. I will stick with the facts on this one. I am a Colts fan, Mathis tested positive for a banned substance, there is a procedure in place to get an exception for the Clomid……he deserves the 4 games, and I hope it doesn’t hurt the Colts too much with the lack of a pass rush. All you other doctors, lawyers, and members of the Mathis family need to take it easy.

  32. This seems pretty simple to me. Yes, he CLEARLY violated the rule and without a doubt should incur some penalty. However he arrived there, the fact remains that he tested positive for a banned substance. I dont think Mathis, his agent, or anyone associated with Mathis has contended that he should receive NO consequences. i think what they are asking for is a FAIR and REASONED penalty for this specific infraction. i think they are asking that common sense be applied to this situation and take into account the reasonableness of the explanation he gave for the presence of the substance in question. Taking a stand against certain substances in injury situations is MUCH DIFFERENT than taking a stand against fertility and a man’s right to explore EVERY avenue to make a family, without regard to “standards and procedures” put in place by his employer. I think there are some things better left to a man and his family, this is definitely one of those things.
    What’s wrong with a reasonable fine and some type of required classes?

  33. Not a fan of the Colts, but Robert Mathis has been nothing but a role model throughout his career. He is a leader in that locker room and the evidence which has been presented clearly shows he took the substance over a span of 12 days for fertility reasons. The doctor which he spoke to suggested taking Clomid, which is NOT FDA approved for fertility but many doctors prescribe specifically for this purpose, for over 20 years. I understand that he did not consult with the NFL doctors, his team or NFL officials; but I feel as though this is a special circumstance. I am happy for him that he will be welcoming a new member into his family and I feel as though this is unjust.

    The NFL is holding him to a higher standard than say Richard Sherman, Dwayne Bowe, Andre Brown; the list goes on and on. How is he being held accountable and yet Haslam and Irsay are not?

  34. Clomid is widely known in the weight training and bodybuilding world. Even most educated, non steroid or testosterone using, lifters know about Clomid and what it is used for. In men, it blocks estrogen (which is formed in men injecting extra testosterone, when there is too much testosterone in the blood and not all used. It then aromatizes and turns to estrogen.) It helps prevent such things as gynocomastia (male breast tissue). It also helps kick start natural testosterone production at the end of a steroid cycle. It is one of the most famous PCT (post cycle therapy) drugs out there.

    Because of this, I’m sure Clomid is at the top of the NFL’s banned list. Any Dr. would know that Clomid is a banned substance also. I usually give guys the benefit of the doubt on some of these things. But, in this case there’s no way his Dr, and almost no way he didn’t know it was a banned substance.

  35. There’s a simple solution for every player and no excuse not to take it.

    Whenever any doctor other than the team doctor wants to give you a med you call the league office and ask if it is or contains a banned substance. The league would be thrilled the players want to stay out of trouble and could never argue the player violated the PED or illegal substances policy by using any given med whatever the reason for taking it.

  36. Wouldnt it be funny if a baby mama came out of the woodwork saying she is pregnant. Dude cheated end of story case closed.

  37. Hiring Munchak for the franchise was a step in the right direction…firing him was not. Hiring Gregg Williams is a good indicator that the Titans will continue to promote a culture of cheating for the forseeable future. Bud Adams needs to retire to Sunny Acres.

  38. Mathis has been around long enough to know to contact THE LEAGUE if he has any doubts whatsoever as to what is banned or not. How would the Dr. know? If the league cleared it and he failed for using it, then it’s on them.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.