It took a little longer than we expected, but the NFL has cleared Green Bay Packers linebackers Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers.
Just as we expected.
The players, along with Steelers linebacker James Harrison and former Packer Mike Neal, were being investigated based on an Al Jazeera report that they were involved in a drug ring. Harrison was also cleared, but Neal has not been.
The investigation was a matter of much contention between the NFL and the player’s association. The league ultimately threatened to suspend the players if they didn’t participate in interviews with their investigators. When those interviews happened, we learned that the NFL didn’t have any evidence of wrongdoing. They were basing the investigation solely on the report, which now looks suspect.
Of course, the NFL has another story. Their press release stated that the investigation included all kinds things: The investigation involved witness interviews, a review of relevant records and other materials, electronic research, and laboratory analysis and review.
And amazingly, all of that produced a whole lot of nothing, at least for the three guys who have been cleared.
As we’ve speculated about before, Neal has long seemed guilty of something. He reportedly gave false written statements to league during this process. He’s also been suspended for drugs before. That could be why his name wasn’t mentioned in the league’s press release clearing the others.