The NFL announced yesterday that three more of the players involved in the Al Jazeera PED investigation have been cleared.
The league found “no credible evidence” that Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers, and James Harrison used or were provided banned substances. Ok. So you’re saying three football players implicated in a now discredited report where the main source had retracted his statement, and where one other player, Peyton Manning, had already been cleared, are now cleared? Got it. And yet you were still going to suspend them if they refused to do an interview, even though you didn’t actually have evidence of failed drug tests or other examples of use? Makes sense.
And from the moment that was announced, everyone was waiting with baited breath to see how James Harrison would respond. After he had earlier in the process demanded that he be interviewed at his home with Roger Goodell present, which didn’t happen, there was no way that he wasn’t going to go bat-flip and stare down the commish after being cleared.
And Harrison didn’t disappoint. Jumped on Instagram with a collage of headlines from 16 different articles declaring him innocent and the caption: “It’s only breaking news cause you thought I was guilty. I have my father’s name and I have WORKED for EVERYTHING I have since DAY ONE.” And he even set it to music, Birdman’s Respek, to be exact.
The way the league handled this from the outset never made any sense. Peyton Manning had been cleared, the report had been discredited, and the statements retracted weeks ago. But still the league pushed on with the other three active players, plus Mike Neal, who still hasn’t been cleared. And when the players pushed back, the league threatened to suspend them if they didn’t agree to an interview by the end of last week.
Instead of being an actual PED investigation, it felt a lot more like two sides flexing their muscles. And now that it’s over, James Harrison got the longest, best flex of all.
On one hand, this is James Harrison were talking about so I expected to come off the top rope completely. I have to say, I wanted more. I wanted more, James. After all, this was a shakedown. That’s what that was.
But at least Harrison gave us something. And can now add, ‘on-point-insta-game’ to his Hall of Fame resume.
Hopefully this is the last bit of off the field garbage we see until the season starts.
Let’s freaking play some football already.