The NFL is threatening James Harrison, Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers and Mike Neal with suspensions over a new PED probe if the players don’t respond to interviews the league wants to conduct, USA Today reported. Harrison, the Pittsburgh Steelers “hitman,” would be the latest big name player from his team, along with wide receiver Martavis Bryant who is serving one-year suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy, and running back Le’Veon Bell, who will serve a suspension for missing a drug test. Matthews, Peppers and Neal make up a huge part of the Green Bay Packers defense, and could have some impact if the Minnesota Vikings or Chicago Bears make a strong showing in the NFC North. The Packers, while the perennial favorites to usually win their division, aren’t exactly in the toughest division in the league, but their first four games, one against the Vikings and another against division rivals the Detroit Lions, could end up meaning more to the team later in the season.
Harrison took to Facebook to comment on his “surprise” and “random” PED.
It’s no small thing if the suspensions end up happening, especially when the NFL season will start off without one of the league’s elite quarterbacks and biggest names, Tom Brady, who is set to serve his own 4-game suspension for “Deflategate” after his reinstatement was overturned by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals this past April. And while the impact on the teams they play for will be felt will be felt, the individual players reputations could be damaged by the allegations, suspensions, or, if they take the tests, the results. Matthews especially as one of the league’s most recognizable players with his long, blonde hair and his ads for companies like Campbell’s soup.
The players have until August 25th to cooperate or face the suspension, and whatever happens, losing more big names and enduring yet another scandal certainly wouldn’t be the best way to start the NFL season.