Matthews, Peppers to meet with NFL next week

Michael Cohen
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
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Outside linebackers Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers of the Green Bay Packers have asked to meet with NFL investigators next week, according to a report by USA TODAY Sports, prior to the league-imposed deadline of Aug. 25.

Green Bay Packers inside linebacker Clay Matthews (52) and outside linebacker Julius Peppers (56) celebrate near the end of the game against the Washington Redskins at Fedex Field January 10, 2016.

The proposed meetings would be held at the Packers’ facility in Green Bay.

In doing so, Matthews and Peppers join linebacker James Harrison of the Pittsburgh Steelers — a third player named in the controversial Al Jazeera report alleging the use of performance-enhancing drugs — as individuals who agreed to speak with the league and took steps to arrange the necessary meetings.

ThompsonNo contingency plan for Matthews, Peppers

Harrison, though, said he would meet with league officials at the Steelers' facility on Aug. 30, five days after the deadline to trigger indefinite suspensions for non-cooperation.

Free-agent linebacker Mike Neal, formerly of the Packers, is the fourth active player being investigated by the league. He became the last player to consent to an interview when he finally agreed Friday afternoon, according to the report from USA TODAY Sports.

Neal said he will meet with investigators in Chicago, though the date of a potential interview is unclear.

Also on Friday came the exoneration of two Major League Baseball players whose names appeared in the same report by Al Jazeera. The league announced that, after an investigation of its own, it did not "find any violations” of the drug policy by first baseman Ryan Zimmerman of the Washington Nationals or first baseman Ryan Howard of the Philadelphia Phillies.

“The accusations from Al Jazeera came out of nowhere, and I was shocked and outraged by their false claims,” Howard said in a statement. “I welcomed the investigation by Major League Baseball as an opportunity to clear my name. I was fully cooperative and transparent in the process, and MLB’s findings validate what I have said publicly. I am glad that this part of the process has concluded, and I look forward to holding the responsible people accountable for these false and defamatory claims in my ongoing litigation against Al Jazeera and its reporters.”

Howard and Zimmerman join former Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning as players named in the Al Jazeera report who have since been cleared by their respective leagues. The NFL exonerated Manning, who is now retired, in late July.

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