NFL To Suspend James Harrison, Clay Matthews If They Deny Interview Requests

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The NFL is putting the pressure on four players tied to a recent Al-Jazeera report on performance-enhancing drugs.

Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison, Green Bay Packers linebackers Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers and free agent linebacker Mike Neal will be suspended indefinitely if they don’t comply with the league’s interview requests before Aug. 25, according to a letter sent from the NFL to the NFL Players Association.

The Al-Jazeera report, which surfaced in December 2015, tied a number of professional athletes to PED use, including then-Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning. The NFL cleared Manning of any wrongdoing after a seven-month investigation, but it seems these players won’t be as lucky.

Even if the league can’t prove Harrison, Matthews, et. al used steroids, it still can suspend the players for “conduct detrimental” if they don’t comply with investigators, NFL vice president of labor policy and league affairs Adolpho Birch wrote in his letter.

Each player would be suspended until they agreed to interviews with NFL officials, at which point league commissioner Roger Goodell “will determine whether and when the suspension should be lifted.”

The four players have held their ground to this point; Harrison said in a recent Instagram post he’d only meet with investigators if he could do so at his house with Goodell present, while Matthews called Al-Jazeera’s report “bogus” at the beginning of training camp.

“It’s kind of annoying that I have to continue to deal with this,” Matthews said, via ESPN.com. “But the truth will come out, and everything I said when the allegations came out I still stand by.”

Still, it appears Harrison, Matthews, Peppers and Neal must make their decisions before Aug. 25 or risk beginning the 2016 season on the sideline.

Thumbnail photo via Matthew Emmons/USA TODAY Sports Images

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