Well, we’ve been over this whole stupid situation a million times, so we won’t rehash it again. Green Bay Packers linebackers Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers were cleared by the NFL in their phantom drug investigation earlier this week.
Surprisingly (not surprisingly), the league didn’t make a big deal out of clearing Matthews, Peppers and Steelers linebacker James Harrison like they did when they cleared former Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning. They issued a short press release and that was that.
And while Matthews and Peppers are glad this nonsense is over with — as are we — they still sound pissed about the whole thing.
“That’s why we stuck strong with the PA in regards to this,” Matthews said. “Just because it sets a dangerous precedent. I think this is something that’ll come up within the next negotiations, CBA negotiations. It’s a very dangerous precedent.”
And the precedent is basically this — the league and their infinite disciplinary power can now pretty much pester any player about any sort of innuendo, whether they actually have any evidence or not.
“It was a slow time during the NFL, I guess,” Peppers said. “It got a little bit more attention than it deserved, in my opinion. It’s unfortunate that we as NFL players are always open to innuendo and rumors and stuff. That’s something that’s unfortunate that players are going to have to deal with.”
Of course, the players and their union could have taken the issue to court when the league threatened to suspend them for not cooperating. That’s what Tom Brady did, but that also dragged Deflategate on for over a year.
“Obviously you stick with the union and what we’d like to proceed with,” Matthews said, “but at the same time there’s a part of you that wants to get it over with and clear your name. It’s difficult in that regard, but at the same time we stuck it through to the end, until there ultimately was an ultimatum.
“And like I said, we weren’t willing to fall on the knife for something we didn’t do.”
The players have obviously learned that they were stupid to give so much power to commissioner Roger Goodell in the last collective bargaining agreement. We suspect that will be a point of contention in the next negotiation in 2021.