NFL clears Manning, puts pressure on others
GREEN BAY - The NFL issued a statement clearing Peyton Manning of any wrongdoing in the investigation of a an Al-Jazeera America report tthat the retired quarterback's wife had received a shipment of HGH in 2011.
The NFL was quick to point out that Manning cooperated fully in the investigation, gave an interview with the NFL and opened his records so that investigators could determine whether he had violated the NFL policy on performance-enhancing drugs.
It also said that the investigation was continuing with other players who were named in the Al-Jazeera report, which means that the case has not been closed on Packers linebackers Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers.
Another of the named players, Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison, has said he would only submit to an interview at his home before the start of training camp. The league has asked Harrison, Matthews and Peppers to submit to interviews on the first of day of camp.
Neither Matthews nor Peppers have said whether they plan to speak with the league. USA Today reported that former Packers linebacker Mike Neal will be interviewed sometime this week. Neal is a free agent and not in camp with anyone.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy said in his pre-camp press conference that he had already talked to Matthews and Peppers about the allegations and had no concern that the investigation would be a distraction to them or the team.
"I haven't talked to them recently," he said. "I don't have anything else to report on it."
The league exonerated Manning completely after a full interview, according to its statement released Monday.
"Following a comprehensive seven-month investigation into allegations made in a documentary by Al-Jazeera America, the NFL found no credible evidence that Peyton Manning was provided with or used HGH or other substances prohibited by the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances, it was announced today.
"The Mannings were fully cooperative with the investigation and provided both interviews and access to all records sought by the investigators."
The NFL said the investigation was led by the NFL’s security and legal teams with support from expert consultants and other professionals. The investigation involved "witness interviews, a review of relevant records and other materials, online research, and laboratory analysis and review."
The Al-Jazeera report quoted Charlie Sly, an employee of an anti-aging clinic in Indianapolis, as claiming he provided Neal and Peppers with a drug used to mask performance-enhancing substances and Matthews with a strong painkiller. Sly, who was recorded without his knowledge by an undercover reporter, later recanted all his comments.
Matthews, Peppers and Neal all vehemently denied the report.
In describing the situation with the others, the NFL said its investigation continues into the documentary’s allegations, "which involve different lines of inquiry and witnesses."