You may have forgotten about the dramatic allegations contained in the Al Jazeera America report on PED usage from six months ago, which alleged Peyton Manning and several other players had used performance-enhancing drugs. According to USA Today’s Tom Pelissero, the NFL hasn't forgotten, and it has informed the NFLPA that it plans to interview four of the players named in the report.
Three current players will be included in this process. Green Bay Packers linebackers Julius Peppers and Clay Matthews will be interviewed by the league on July 26. Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison will also be interviewed on July 29. Linebacker Mike Neal, who is currently a free agent but was previously with the Packers, will be interviewed by the league on or before July 22.
Harrison took to social media to express his displeasure with the way this process is being carried out by the NFL, stating that he's happy to participate in this interview process, but only if Roger Goodell comes to his house prior to the start of camp to complete it.
Manning, who is retired and thus no longer represented by the NFLPA, is not named in the league’s communication with the Players’ Association. According to a report from Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer, however, Manning is likely to cooperate with any investigation because of his desire to become an NFL executive in the future.
The subject of the Al Jazeera America report, former anti-aging clinic intern Charlie Sly, has since recanted. Still, the NFL is pursuing the investigation.
In its communication with the NFLPA, the NFL said the Players’ Association’s failure to respond is obstructing the league’s ability to complete the investigation.
"While the investigation has proceeded, we have yet to interview the players," the correspondence read. " We have attempted since early April to work through the NFLPA to schedule them, but despite multiple requests the NFLPA has failed to respond, except to seek reconsideration of the basis for the investigation. ... In fairness to all, including the players involved, we must move forward with the interviews."
The Collective Bargaining Agreement allows the league to punish players for using banned substances if credible evidence that they did so exists, regardless of whether those players failed league drug tests. If the league determines that the Al Jazeera report constitutes credible evidence, it could result in suspensions for the current players involved. It's unclear what kind of consequences could be applied to Manning.
On Monday, the NFLPA released a statement, arguing that the Al Jazeera report is not a credible enough source to justify an investigation:
"The NFL has chosen to initiate an investigation of these players based upon now-recanted statements that appeared in an Al Jazeera report. The NFLPA requested from the NFL any additional evidence supporting an investigation of the players; the NFL did not provide any such evidence, nor did they inform the NFLPA or the players that any such evidence exists. Instead, the NFL has decided to publicly pressure the players into submission. We will continue to advise our players about their rights and hold the NFL accountable."