Now other players in the league are dealing with the ramifications of being blamed for things without actual concrete evidence.
Remember how Peyton Manning met with the league shortly after announcing his retirement to clear his name over the Al Jazeera PED allegations? Well, apparently the NFL expects Clay Matthews, James Harrison and Julius Peppers to do the same, or else they’ll be suspended (via Tom Pelissero of USA Today).
Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison, Green Bay Packers linebackers Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers and free-agent linebacker Mike Neal will be suspended beginning Aug. 26 if they haven’t cooperated, NFL senior vice president of labor policy and league affairs Adolpho Birch told the NFL Players Association in a letter Monday that was first obtained by USA TODAY Sports.
The suspensions would be for conduct detrimental, and separate from any possible discipline the players would face under the league's drug policies, Birch's letter said. Each player would remain suspended until he has participated in an interview with the league's investigators, after which NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell “will determine whether and when the suspension should be lifted.”
So basically the league simply has to be told “someone is taking PEDs” and that person will be required to cooperate with whatever questioning Goodell sees fit, even if the allegations are simply from word of mouth. If players don’t “fully cooperate,” they can be suspended without any evidence.
This is the power Roger Goodell gained in winning his case against Brady. He previously wasn’t able to force players into questioning with a potential suspension looming. If Goodell says, “hand over your cell phone,” you have to hand over your cell phone or else there goes four games.
Here’s how Harrison feels about things:
Harrison on just doing interview: if that's the case then somebody can just say James,Harrison is a pedofile. Are the going to suspend me?
— Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly_Trib) August 16, 2016
So to those football fans that were happy to see Brady suspended four games just for the sake of seeing Brady off the field, this is why DeflateGate was bullsh*t. It has nothing to do with deflated footballs or accusing Tom Brady of being a cheater. It was all about giving Goodell more control.
But don’t worry, players. He’s only going to look through some of your text messages.