James Harrison’s anger is understandable.
Harrison worked his way up from an undrafted linebacker to NFL defensive player of the year. He has 76.5 career sacks and is still productive at age 38. He’s also one of the strongest players in the NFL, and his entire career is going to draw skepticism in this era. Then Al Jazeera America implicated Harrison and other NFL players including Peyton Manning as performance-enhancing drug users. Al Jazeera used an undercover camera and captured a worker from an anti-aging clinic in Indianapolis, Charlie Sly, naming NFL players and other athletes who he says received PEDs. Sly quickly recanted everything he said on the undercover video.
While the NFL and NFLPA are bickering about the league talking to the players involved, Harrison is maintaining his innocence. He signed an affidavit expressing his innocence, which was reported by outlets like NFL.com and USA Today.
“I have never violated the NFL Policy (for) Performance Enhancing Substances,” Harrison wrote, according to USA Today’s Tom Pelissero.
“As a professional athlete, I have met thousands of people during my career,” Harrison wrote in the affidavit, NFL.com said, “but to the best of my knowledge and recollection, I have never met with the individual who is apparently named Charles Sly…”
The underlying story here is that Harrison and the union seem to be digging in against the NFL. His affidavit was sent with a letter from the NFLPA, telling the NFL that Harrison’s “affidavit constitutes reasonable cooperation,” according to USA Today. USA Today also said the union stated in its letter that the NFL has not provided “any credible evidence … that would provide a reasonable basis for Mr. Harrison to submit to an (NFL) interview.”
One can understand why the NFLPA wouldn’t be excited to subject their players to interviews. The NFL railroaded perhaps the most high-profile member of the union, New England quarterback Tom Brady, without having any evidence in deflate-gate. The NFL doesn’t have a failed test in the Al Jazeera case, just recanted words from a single source. Given how poorly the league handled the Brady issue, giving the league a chance to interview everyone implicated in that story probably doesn’t sound like a great idea to the NFLPA.
As for Harrison, he already made a public show of putting stipulations on an NFL interview. Now it seems like he’s preparing to tell the NFL he won’t talk at all, outside of his affidavit. This story might get very interesting over the next few weeks.
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