Green Bay Packers linebackers Julius Peppers and Clay Matthews, along with now-former Packers linebacker Mike Neal, were implicated in a drug ring by Al Jazeera back in December. The NFL announced they were launching an investigation in January and then… nothing.
As you may recall, former Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning was the biggest name implicated and was at the forefront of the report. Al Jazeera claimed Manning’s wife Ashley received HGH shipments from an Indianapolis anti-aging clinic.
The alleged roles of Peppers, Matthews and Neal weren’t as clearly defined, although they were tied to specific types of drugs. Matthews was tied to painkillers and both Neal and Peppers were tied to HGH.
As we noted at the time, Neal was suspended for performance-enhancing drugs back in 2012. He currently remains unsigned and his past suspension and the current investigation could be playing a role.
However, if the NFL is planning on handing down any suspensions now, they’re certainly taking their sweet time in doing so.
USA Today found that the league hasn’t even spoken to the players mentioned in the report yet, but they do still plan on doing so.
“It’s our expectation that we will interview the players involved over the next month or so,”NFL spokesman Joe Lockhart said, adding that the NFL is “in conversations with the union over the timing” of the interviews.
Lockhart also said the league is reviewing “extensive forensic evidence,” which at least sounds like it might take a while.
Another theory is the league isn’t too anxious to pry into the matters of the former face of the NFL and two of its marquee defenders for fear of what they might find.
That’s not to suggest stars are outside the reach of NFL justice. You need look no further than Patriots quarterback Tom Brady to see that’s not the case. Brady is scheduled to sit the first four games of 2016 for deflating footballs.
For their part, all three Packers denied any wrongdoing. Matthews called the report bullshit and Peppers expressed shock that his name was mentioned.
Neal’s denial — or misdirection — wasn’t quite as believable.
“You might as well stop asking me questions,” Neal said. “I mean, I’m sure you saw how pissed off Peyton Manning was about somebody coming out with talk like this. If you want to piss me off, that’s one thing, but please don’t … if you want to talk about football, let’s talk about football.”
Not exactly a denial, as you can see.
Players can be suspended four games for a first-time HGH violation and 1o games for a second violation. Those suspensions are based on a positive test, however.
As far as we know, the league doesn’t have a positive test from anyone implicated. They only have the report.
Therefore, if punishment is doled out, it may not even fall under a drug-policy violation.
There’s one question — how to handle punishment without a positive test if there is punishment?
There are so many others.
With Peppers likely in his final season — his contract with the Packers expires after 2016 — would the league purposely drag their feet if they found Peppers did wrong? Suspending a future Hall of Famer in his final season doesn’t seem like a real desirable move for the NFL.
You could clearly tell the league wasn’t in any hurry to paint Manning in a negative light during the playoffs. That would be bad for business. Why not just sweep this whole thing under the rug?
As for Matthews, even if he did acquire painkillers, is that against the rules? We can’t see a scenario that could be constructed where it would be, unless he’s using them recreationally.
In that case, Matthews could potentially be suspended under the NFL’s substance abuse policy. Even that seems highly unlikely, though. On top of that, the substance abuse policy allows for two strikes before a suspension.
After one positive test, a player enters the program. Only after a second do they actually get suspended. Plus, again, these are protocols based on positive tests, not other evidence.
Frankly, we wouldn’t be surprised if this just all quietly went away. And maybe that was the idea before someone got nosey and reminded us all about it.
He’s 30 and beat up so yeah probably using something for the old aches and pains.
The timeline doesn’t compute. This supposedly happened sometime between 2011 & 2013. Peppers didn’t join the Packers until 2014.
It will be hard for the NFL to prove but the circumstantial evidence is over the top
The NFL drug testing is a joke when it comes to PEDs. As one player put it you could be using PEDs and the NFL would have to get win the lottery twice in a row lucky to actually catch anyone. The fact he has not tested positive is nearly meaningless. For the NFL to have even a vague chance to catch someone they have to have used within 24 hours.
Matthews went from a 6’1″, 165 lb junior in high school who could not get any playing time on a team coached by his Dad to a 6″3″, 225 lb. sophomore in college and 6’3″, 246 when he was drafted. 81 pounds in 6 years!!!!!! Of muscle!!!!!! Go ahead, find a 6’1″, 165 lb. high school football player — who had already spent years working int he weight room. Work with him in the weight room for 6 more years w/o help from illegal additives. You think he will gain 81 pounds of muscle? Heck no!
His buddy and fellow linebacker at USC, Brian Cushing, was caught using PEDs by the NFL. His buddy and fellow linebackers Julius Peppers and Mike Neal at the Packers also most likely (based on common sense conclusions to the overall evidence) also used or use PEDs.
The fact Sly has said he fabricated it is also meaningless. You think he is telling the truth that he lied? Or lying that he did not tell the truth? We obviously know for sure he is a liar. So, which one is the lie? 1) In casual conversation, not aware he was being recorded, he talks about Manning, Neal, Matthews, Peppers, and Harrison. Or, 2) The heat is on with the public and his clients and friends are at risk and he is at risk of being sued by them soooooooo. In the casual conversation he had no reason to lie. Sly is a proven dealer of PEDs and illegal and/or unprescribed substances. It is literally what he does. He is known to have visited the Green Bay Packer team. He is friends with Mike Neal and they work out together. There is a photo of them grinning standing with each other after a sweaty work-out. If he was, in casual conversation, going to make up clients would he really use the name of his friend Mike Neal? Would he then use a couple more Packers so then the majority of names were all from one team? This is not the sort of lie you tell that is persuasive. Would you really try to inspire a client by name-dropping Mike Neal? You know, “You could be just like Mike Neal….!” “……. who…?” Would you say, “Hey, Clay Matthews texted me asking for some pain killers so, ahhhh, you really should buy PEDs from me…..”
Now, a few more reaction indicators:
*Mike Neal never actually denied it. He just told reporters not to make him angry by asking him questions about it. This is classic avoidance without accountability for any actual denials — since he does not know for sure if it will be proved or what an investigation can find.
*James Harrison says he has nothing to hide… but insists the interview with him be held on a day of his choosing, at his own home, with Roger Goodell present. So obviously, he has a loot to hide and is setting up pretend road-blocks making lack of cooperation a matter of pretend principles.
*Sly said PEDs were sent to Manning in the mail in his wife’s name. Sly now says he was lying when he said that. However, Manning does not know what mail tracking or records there may be and no doubt his stable of attorneys advised him of that. So he did not deny PEDs were sent to his wife. He would not confirm it either but he will not deny it. He says her medical situation is personal. Well, there are only 4 medical conditions that legally allow PEDs. They are pretty dramatic as well. If she had them we would know it, it would be obvious, or she would have died — even with PEDs — between Manning’s neck injury recovery time and now years later. So really, either Peyton or his wife was getting illegal PEDs, right when Manning really needed them due to his neck injury recovery. Quite a coincident that. Oh, and Sly was making that up, was lying, but it just so happened by accident that when he lied and said PEDs were sent to the Mannings, he was, incredibly, accidentally right on! His lie was accidentally true!!! Or wouldn’t it make more sense to just understand Sly was telling the truth when he had no reason to lie and then recanted when he had every legal and financial reason to lie?
Last year Matthews played all 16 games and so did ancient Julius Peppers. This is year they will need to at least cut down PED usage and maybe even stop altogether due to increased scrutiny. So I predict they will miss at least 8 games between the two of them. Peppers sack total will drop from 10.5 to about 6. Matthews, moved back to OLB and with many more opportunities to rush — he is poor in coverage and average vs the run so what else are they going to have him do? — his sack total will go up from 6.5 but not to the expected 13 or whatever. I see maybe 9. These sacks predictions, 6 and 9, are if each of them play and start all 16 games with no injury issues. If they do miss a total of 8 games the total should drop correspondingly, to about 11.5.
PS, if you gained a pound of muscle PER MONTH, for six years, you would add a total of 72 pounds! And you would still be 9 pounds BEHIND what Clay Matthews did!