KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Cleared of any wrongdoing in the NFL’s investigation into allegations of performance enhancing drugs, Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers are ready to move on with the 2016 season.
Meeting with the media following the Packers’ 17-7 preseason loss to Kansas City on Thursday night, Matthews and Peppers said they’re pleased to put the ordeal behind them.
The two linebackers were interviewed by the league last week in connection with an Al-Jazeera America media report from December that they had received and used PEDs.
Both linebackers have vehemently denied any involvement in PEDs since the report first came out.
“First and foremost I’m happy that my name is cleared and get back to focusing on football,” Matthews said. “Obviously not happy with the entire situation and how it played out but ultimately it’s in the rear-view mirror now. We can focus on football, especially with the regular season right in front of us.”
The league, which also cleared Pittsburgh linebacker James Harrison of any wrongdoing, threatened to suspend the three linebackers if they didn’t submit to interviews with the league.
Peppers said he and Matthews stayed in regular communication throughout the process with the NFL Players Association.
The union did not initially comply due to the league’s lack of evidence and the fear of setting a precedent for baseless investigations after Al-Jazeera’s primary source recanted what he told the media outlet.
Ultimately, the NFL announced that it “found no credible evidence” of the players being provided with or using PEDs. The league termed its investigation “comprehensive.”
“It was a process,” Peppers said. “It was a lot of back and forth for months. We communicated with the PA back and forth about how to best handle it. We came to a decision that we needed to go ahead and do it, and get it resolved and that’s what happened.”
Peppers said he wasn’t too concerned over the whole process, though he wishes it could’ve been resolved earlier.
“I feel like we all could have handled the situation a little differently to get a better result (but) I’m pleased with how it turned out,” he said. “That’s pretty much it.”
Matthews said the situation wasn’t a distraction for him when he was on the field and never worried about a suspension until the league threatened action last month.
Now that it’s behind them, both linebackers are ready to turn their undivided attention to the regular season before them.
“We weren’t willing to fall on the knife for something that we’ve maintained our innocence about,” Matthews said. “Obviously the interview proved that. Especially with the regular season starting, it’s good to get that all behind us and focus on the regular season starting with Jacksonville next week.”
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