NFL rejects player affidavits as 'reasonable cooperation'

The NFL has concluded that affidavits received from players listed in an Al Jazeera America report alleging HGH use were insufficient proof of cooperation and reiterated that the players -- James Harrison, Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers and Mike Neal -- were required to participate in interviews with the league.

"The league responded to the union this afternoon confirming receipt of written statements by Matthews, Peppers, Harrison and Mike Neal," a league source told NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport on Friday.

"The league rejected the union's view that affidavits constitute reasonable cooperation by the players and confirmed that they are required to participate in in-person interviews. The PED policy reflects the NFL and NFLPA's shared commitment to protect the fairness and integrity of the competition on the field and we owe it to the players, clubs and fans to fully address any claims of this nature.

"We advised the union that to move forward to resolve the allegations, we would first proceed with the Neal interview after which we would follow with the other player interviews."

The initial report, released by Al Jazeera America in December, cites a former unpaid Guyer Institute intern pharmacist, Charlie Sly, who allegedly spoke to an undercover reporter working for the network. Sly, who later recanted his statement, said that the four players listed and recently retired Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning were supplied illegal performance-enhancing drugs from the Indianapolis-based anti-aging clinic.

Earlier this month, Harrison stated in an affidavit obtained by NFL Media that he never met or had communication with Sly.

"As a professional athlete, I have met thousands of people during my career," Harrison wrote in the affidavit, "but to the best of my knowledge and recollection, I have never met with the individual who is apparently named Charles Sly..."

Harrison went on to state he doesn't know Sly and that he has had no form of communication with him. He also denied ingesting or being supplied the product Sly described as "Delta-2".

Last month, Adolpho Birch, NFL senior vice president of labor policy and government affairs, informed the NFLPA that the league planned to interview Harrison, Matthews and Peppers on the first day of their respective training camps, a stance the league will plan to execute next week.

"The NFLPA and NFL are obligated and have a shared responsibility to look into allegations that could impact the integrity of competition on the field and the health of our players," McCarthy said. "We have been obtaining and reviewing numerous records, conducting multiple interviews and working with other entities. We have made no conclusions but the report merits a review, including interviews with the players named."

In its letter accompanying the affidavit, the NFLPA reiterated its stance that the league "has not indicated its investigation has yielded any such credible evidence" to warrant an interview of Harrison.

The NFLPA also argued a player doesn't need to "agree to an in-person interview based upon random, verbal remarks or face discipline" for failing to cooperate with an investigation under the collective bargaining agreement or league drug policy.

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