NFLPA letter regarding PED investigation chides NFL for “public shaming” and bullying of players

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Three of the four players accused in the Al Jazeera documentary of PED use have decided to submit to the league’s talk-or-else interview demand. PFT has obtained a copy of the letter sent to the league on behalf of Steelers linebacker James Harrison.

In the letter signed by NFLPA Associate General Counsel Heather McPhee, the union accuses the league of a “public shaming” media strategy, and also blames the league for leaking the letter threatening Harrison and the other players with a suspension before it was given to Harrison or the union.

The letter also points to the question that has sparked the controversy culminating in the NFL’s alleged bullying of the players: “Is the NFL aware of any credible evidence — other than the recanted remarks by one individual shown by Al-Jazeera — that indicates there is any validity to the remarks about Mr. Harrison?”

The letter takes the position that the PED policy does not authorize the NFL to demand an interview under threat of suspension, and that Article 46 has no application in this case. Nevertheless, Harrison has agreed to be interviewed “to answer NFL investigators’ questions about the only remarks about him in the Al-Jazeera report,” which consists of Charles Sly saying Harrison is a “f–king beast,” that Sly supplied him “with some stuff,” and that Harrison specifically takes Delta-2.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, similar letters were sent on behalf of Packers linebacker Clay Matthews and Packers linebacker Julius Peppers. (The similarities resulted in a typo in Harrison’s letter, regarding his willingness to be interviewed on August 24 “at the Packers’ facility. He will make himself available at the Steelers’ facility.) Free-agent defensive lineman Mike Neal has not agreed to be interviewed.

The fact that Neal has declined the demand to be interviewed means that his situation will likely become the test case for determining whether Article 46 trumps the PED policy. The fact that Harrison (and presumably Matthews and Peppers) have placed restrictions on the questions they are willing to answer could set the stage for further disagreement and controversy during the interviews — and possibly an effort to suspend them after the fact, if they are deemed to have not fully cooperated with the investigation.

UPDATE 5:33 a.m. ET 8/19/16: A revised letter on behalf of Harrison indicates that he will make himself available at 5:00 p.m. ET on August 30, 2016 at the Steelers’ facility. That’s five days after the deadline articulated by the NFL in Monday’s letter.

52 responses to “NFLPA letter regarding PED investigation chides NFL for “public shaming” and bullying of players

  1. With all the negative things that the union and the players say about the league, the PA has NOTHING to say on that.

    That’s like Hillary calling someone else a liar… lol

  2. The union leadership are a bunch of idiots. They can’t do anything positive so they go out of their way to create an adversarial relationship with the league. I think it makes it harder for the players and the union in the long run.

  3. Neal would most likely be done with football anyways. NFLPA should give him a years minimum salary just to guarantee he pursues the legal end of things. It could be a little known player breaks the dictator. He has nothing to lose as teams haven’t expressed interest in him.

  4. No doubt this sets the stage for work stoppage when the new CBA needs to be ratified. Goodell is not going to give up his dictatorship easily, and it may cost the players having to play a 17th game (1 overseas) in exchange.

  5. The NFLPA were the people who made this disagreement public. They are such hypocrites. They started this drama and are mad that their public whining backfired.

  6. So, they think the league office is going to agree to fly to them to conduct interviews, and limit the questions to what some guy said who later recanted?

    Good luck with that…

  7. PED usage must be widespread for all these players to squawk so loudly. Perhaps if the rules are enforced, the NFL may finally get the much-sought parity between teams. Seahawks will look very ordinary when their PED supply is gone.

  8. If Goodell wasn’t a master in TV negotiations he would be long gone. He has become an embarrassment to the the game we love.

  9. Leaking information as a strategy for manipulation of the public is a very dirty tactic. People will eventually start to see it as sports entertainment instead of actual sport if they keep it up.

  10. The Steelers told you so……..remember they were the only team to vote against the CBA. They felt the new deal continued to give NFL commissioner Roger Goodell too much leeway as judge, jury and executioner over the player conduct policy.

  11. How is the media and posting boards like PFT not held accountable for bullying and public shaming?

  12. I have my suspicions about these named players and just about every other NFL player as far as PED use goes. That being said, the NFL’s strong arm tactics have gone too far. No player should be threatened with suspension without any credible evidence.

  13. Public Shaming and Bullying are now the M.O. for Integrity Goodell. It’s a hell of a lot easier to run your scams when a lot of the gullible public is already on your side.

  14. I would of liked to have seen what would of happened if they refused. I believe a specific policy regarding PEDs trumps the other vague BS considering the source, but I’m not a lawyer, so guess we will find out their fate in a week or two. I just think Goodell is so heavy handed that his attempts to better the league are working in reverse. By now, I’m sure the 4 DEFENDENTS have got their story straight and might be able to get off with probation from Judge Roger Goodell.

  15. How can Gomer Manning be cleared if he admitted this stuff was sent to his house, yet no one else in the Al Jazeera 4 has admitted to ANYTHING and have not tested positive?

    Goodell apparently is so far gone as a liar,

    Here’s the deal:

    In 2014, the NFL started testing for HGH. Very clearly, what Gomer was getting from Guyer, was a Chinese version that was going undetected by NFL standards, which is likely why all of these people named by Guyer were not coming up positive in 2014 or 2015.

    End of story.

    Gomer cheated.

    Fact.

    All of these guys also cheated, but the bigger story here is, why does Goodell play favorites with some players and teams, and then outright lie or frame others?

    I know the answer…Do you?

  16. This is just another shinning example of how out of touch with reality the NFL Owners, players, and NFLPA are with reality.

    Can you imagine any of this happening at your place of employment?

  17. I think my answer to every question would be “I’m sorry, but with all the concussions I’ve suffered, I have no specific memory of that.”

    Make Hillary Clinton proud

  18. If the players think they are going to get away with only answering the questions they want to answer……..they might as well save themselves the time and effort of an interview. Not going to answer certain questions and not going to offer up their cell phones…….take your (I suspect) well earned suspensions now.

  19. NFLPA letter regarding PED investigation chides NFL for “public shaming” and bullying of CHEATING players…

    Fixed

  20. If these players get suspended for (recanted) hearsay, obtained under false pretenses, then the sky’s the limit. Next will be tattoo ID numbers.

  21. coke4mauk says:
    Aug 18, 2016 4:12 PM

    Everyone that works for the NFL office was probably mercilessly bullied when they were younger, so now they’re getting payback
    ———————-

    Well, most of them are Jets fans, after all.

  22. Bob Kraft, a very important guy, is major PO’d at Goodell, and Goodell needs to show he is bringing the hammer on other teams also, or he’ll be in deep doodoo for a long time.
    The four players are the pawns.

  23. The NFLPA has to do some sort of saber rattling. A stern letter. Big deal. If the players were smart they’d boycott the union, save their union dues and put Maurice Smith out of an overpaid, cushy job. He’s worthless.

  24. Answer to every one of NFL HQ’s questions: I’m just here so I wont get fined.

  25. A couple of things here. First I know people will say this is a bigger deal than it is but it isn’t. Do the interview and be done with it. Why fight about it. What people seem to fail to realize is that we live in a world dominated by HR departments. If you force one employee to do something then you have to do so for others in same situation. I beleive that a news report was considered justification for a ped investigation as agreed to in the CBA. Second, this Union has been beaten by the league so much they should elect new leadership. They wanted a litigator and got one. However they could do nothing about collaboration because they agreed to wipeout any prior grievances, failed in the Brady case, personally I think he did it but a suspension for it is ridiculous, and will fail here. The union wants to fight all the things it agreed to and then blame management for using those rights.

  26. skinsrock says:
    Aug 18, 2016 4:25 PM
    I would of liked to have seen what would of happened if they refused. I believe a specific policy regarding PEDs trumps the other vague BS considering the source, but I’m not a lawyer, so guess we will find out their fate in a week or two. I just think Goodell is so heavy handed that his attempts to better the league are working in reverse. By now, I’m sure the 4 DEFENDENTS have got their story straight and might be able to get off with probation from Judge Roger Goodell.

    —————————–

    It’s not neccesarily to go that easy. I will bet money Goodell will take the ‘restrictions on questions’ as a challenge to his authority and will purposely ask questions against those restrictions and suspend if they don’t answer. He can also demand cell phones and only an idiot hands over their cell phone to anyone so of course those guys refuse, then Goodell suspends them. If Goodell has decided they are suspended then they are suspended. He wants this as harsh on the players as possible so that he can wrangle those extra games and overseas games from them. Make no mistake that’s what all this has been about all along. He can’t get any more blood out of Brady so he’s moved on to these guys and there will be more. It will continue until the union stops opposing his expansion plans.

  27. I have been on this earth longer the a lot and I never ever heard the term bullying as much as I have heard it the last few years. Honest

  28. mmack66 says:
    Aug 18, 2016 5:12 PM
    coke4mauk says:
    Aug 18, 2016 4:12 PM

    Everyone that works for the NFL office was probably mercilessly bullied when they were younger, so now they’re getting payback
    ———————-

    Well, most of them are Jets fans, after all.
    ============================

    A good number of the league’s employees ARE Jets fans. That’s why they look at the Brady case as a victory for their team.
    As if the Jets could win anything without massive amounts of help.

  29. RaiderInv Says: Aug 18, 2016 4:43 PM
    This is just another shinning example of how out of touch with reality the NFL Owners, players, and NFLPA are with reality.

    Can you imagine any of this happening at your place of employment?

    I hope you’re joking. This absolutely takes place in businesses everywhere. Any business with a comprehensive drug testing policy can demand information from you (the employee) at any time.
    Think about Pilots, Truck Drivers, Police, School and Gov’t Employees, Doctors, Nurses and many, many others.

    All of them can and do fall under policies similar to the NFLs. It’s standard. That’s why it’s in the Union Contract. It’s more normal then un-normal.

    By the way, the policy has to be across the board, including management, to be enforceable, which is why owners and team manager’s and others have also come into the same policy.

  30. A strongly worded letter. Boy, I’ll be that has the NFL Office guys shaking in their boots.

  31. The NFL league office brought the shaming thing into the gutter all by themselves with the way they handled the Brady case. The NFLPA should shame the league office like theirs no tomorrow. They deserve it.

  32. Three of the four players accused in the Al Jazeera documentary … The NFL has done no public shaming and all the bravado of the NFLPA is bringing more attention (which they claim they don’t want) to it.

  33. dwoofer- I understand you started watching football a few years back son.. The seahawks have not had a player suspended for PEDS since the summer BEFORE they won the superbowl aka off season.

    The seahawks temporarily passed the redskins for players suspended but all we heard all day was peds this hawks are juicing… Not one sane person can look at the players who were suspended for PEDS and say it was an epidemic for goodness sake threw guys never made the team that’s what skewed the total numbers. Bc the hawks have an open competition it to a degreeencourages players who are borderline practice squad or 53 to try and gain an edge bc the hawks play who deserves it not just draft picks.

    Lastly the seahawks didn’t even finish the 2012 season leading the league in suspensions and since that one season when they temporarily took the lead they have had exactly ZERO ped suspensions since.. That was 3 seasons ago.

    The real problem was how out of nowhere the hawks seemed to have come so when browner was popped they started to use their own brash bravado against them bc most fans immediately hated the hawks bc of how boisterous they were to others. They didnt follow the PC crap peolpeople crap their panties when that doesn’t happen even if it’s right. Cough cough you mad bro to Brady after he was the one calling the seahawks players NO BODIES..

    dwoofer- collect this L you just sound like a hater. The difference between leading the league and being 5th was one player including the crazy weird time of Lindale white getting two separate suspension yet never even making it through camp totally messed up that total. Including that year until now the hawks are not even close to leading the NFL.

  34. The saddest part about this is that if the NFLPA truly cares about the players they’d be leading the charge and asking the NFL to get to the bottom of this. PEDs make the league more dangerous. The game can and was just as exciting without 250lbs dudes that run a 4.5 40. It also screws over clean players in the long run. The idea that James Harrison is clean is laughable. Massages don’t allow you to play that long in a DE or OLB position. The body takes to much damage without a little HGH or other help with recovery.

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