The impasse between the NFL and the NFL Players Association over the investigation regarding the Al Jazeera documentary containing allegations against four active NFL players lingers, with the league wanting to interview them, the union declining to make them available, and the league not yet saying, “The interview will occur at this specific time. Show up and cooperate or be punished for failure to do so.”
It’s unclear whether the league will make such an ultimatum. Behind the scenes, however, efforts are ongoing to persuade the players to comply. In Green Bay, for example, a league source tells PFT that some pressure is being applied by the Packers to linebackers Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers to submit to the requested interviews.
There’s not much the team can do other than appeal to their desire to be exonerated, to avoid negative P.R., to get the matter behind them, and to minimize the possibility of a potential distraction. If the players are clean, it’s easy to argue that they should want to submit to the interviews so that the league eventually could issue a press release exonerating them, like the one issued earlier this week to exonerate Peyton Manning.
The NFLPA, which still harbors some lingering ill will toward Packers president and former player Mark Murphy from the CBA talks of 2011, nevertheless believes that allowing players to be interviewed based only on the recanted allegations of Charles Sly creates a bad precedent. The fact that the league ultimately regarded Sly’s allegations against Manning to be not credible makes it even more important to insist on something more than Sly’s shaky word before allowing the league to launch a fishing expedition aimed at getting them to say something that could be used against them.
For now, the active players have held firm. Even free-agent Mike Neal, who has linked his ongoing unemployment to the lingering cloud of PED suspicion, has not yielded. As long as they do, the ball will be in the NFL’s court — and the question will be whether the league wants to draw a line in the sand based on allegations from someone whom the league already has determined to be, as it related to Peyton Manning, not believable.