The NFL announced Monday that it will interview four current players – Pittsburgh’s James Harrison, Green Bay’s Julius Peppers and Clay Matthews, and free-agent linebacker Mike Neal – for being linked, along with Peyton Manning, to an Al Jazeera America report that last December alleged performance-enhancing drug use in several U.S. sports.
Tiki Barber has a problem with this, mainly because the vast majority of the report was later recanted by its primary source.
“What are we looking for?” an annoyed Barber asked on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “What’s the NFL trying to accomplish? Their stated goal is to protect the integrity of competition and player health. That’s laid out and it sounds good. Like, ‘We want to make sure the guys aren’t doing steroids. We want to make sure that they’re not cheating and (getting) a competitive advantage.’ But anyone – BT, you could get on this show right now and say, ‘I think Eli Manning is doing steroids. I saw him in the gym in the back corner pumping something into his leg.’ You could say that. And basically, the NFL’s (position) is that now that would lead to an investigation of Eli Manning.”
This is wrong. NFL players, Barber explained, have rights. They are part of a union and have collectively bargained rights. The NFL can come after a player for three basic reasons: a failed or missed drug test, breaking the law (think DUI), or being the perpetrator of credible and documented wrongdoing.
Charlie Sly, a former intern at the Guyer Institute of Molecular Medicine, an anti-aging clinic in Indianapolis, made damning allegations against the NFL players listed in the report, but later recounted his statements.
“Is that enough evidence for the league to go after James Harrison and Clay Matthews and some of these other guys?” Barber asked. “I would say not. And why is this important? Because it shows that the NFL, maybe they think they’re right, maybe they feel like they’re doing the right thing, but they’re stomping all over the rights of players – collectively bargained, union employees. That’s where this crosses with Deflategate. That’s exactly the same situation. Tom Brady gets accused (of wrongdoing), and then it gets misreported and starts Deflategate, which is going on two years later. So the NFL, maybe thinking they’re doing the right thing, have so far overstepped their bounds of a collectively bargained union-employer relationship. That’s why I honestly feel like this case – Deflategate and maybe this one added on – is going to go to the Supreme Court.
“You can’t trample rights of employees,” Barber continued. “I don’t care who you are or what the collective bargaining says you can do. You can’t. The NFL is taking another step out of bounds on their power. I don’t know where it goes. I don’t know what the solution is. I don’t know what the reasoning behind this is. But players better be wary. And instead of getting up there on draft day and hugging Roger Goodell, realize that he will cut your throat in a heartbeat if he even suspects you have one inkling of malfeasance in your world. It’s not right.”