Posted on August 31, 2016, by Travis Pulver
One of the dumbest scandals in recent NFL history is finally over. The NFL has announced that it has found no credible evidence that James Harrison, Clay Mathews, and Julius Peppers took any performance enhancing drugs like the Al-Jazeera documentary claimed they had.
There was never a reason to believe that the league would find any proof of wrongdoing by any of the players. While the report came from a respected media source, the information in it was considered suspect from the start. It certainly didn’t help the credibility of the report when the main witness recanted everything he said while being recorded (without his knowledge).
So many thought the NFL would let this one go without making a big fuss about it, but that wouldn’t be on par with how Roger Goodell operates. If there is a perceived injustice to the ‘integrity of the shield’ he goes on the attack—and attack he did.
Rather than provide the players with a reason—outside of the Al-Jazeera report—to investigate them, he decided to exert the power he felt he had thanks to the recent court cases that found in the NFL’s favor—he threatened them with a suspension if they didn’t bend to his will.
The players have not fared well challenging Goodell’s authority in the past, but there was still a lot of discussion on whether they should challenge him now. Should they give in to Goodell’s bully tactics or stand firm and demand a good reason for the investigation?
For a short time, they all talked tough, but in the end, they all gave in. Now, just days after their interviews took place, the league has stated what was already known—these guys are innocent.
What will be interesting to see is how the NFL uses this investigation going forward. It would not be shocking to see the league use this investigation as a reason players should just cooperate with investigations in the future. They’ll say what many fans said on social media in regards to Harrison, Peppers, and Mathews:
If you aren’t guilty, what do you have to lose?
Guys of the Al-Jazeera claims and were found innocent. So if you are innocent, you’ll have nothing to lose either. Cooperate and everything will work out in the end.
There have been too many questionable “investigations” for players to ever blindly to submit to the league for an investigation. For now, fans of the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers can breathe easy knowing that their team is not going to lose anyone over the Al-Jazeera mess. Harrison, Mathews, and Peppers can finally put it all behind them and get back to concentrating on what they do best—and just be glad that it is all over.
According to his agent, James Harrison certainly is:
“I don’t think James was ever really worried about all this — I think it just was a pain in the butt.”
He’s not the only one.