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Cory's Corner: PEDs vs. the public trust

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Cory's Corner: PEDs vs. the public trust

So now we all know Al Jazeera America right?

The news channel, that is now defunct, came out with a report back in December that connected a list of players to performance enhancing drugs and other substances.

And now the NFL will interview Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers and James Harrison when the Packers and Steelers open camp next month. Peppers was forced to sit out the first four games of the 2004 season because he tested positive as a rookie.

The reason why none of this makes any sense is because there’s zero evidence. The report doesn’t have information of a positive test. Even if the NFL is able to sniff out receipts for certain PED purchases, it doesn’t really mean anything, because it doesn’t prove that the player took it.

I realize that many people are saying, “Where there’s smoke there’s fire.” I understand that, but you cannot have an organization with flimsy journalistic integrity throw a dart on a wall and hope that it sticks.

And now many people are upset that Peyton Manning will not be interviewed. First of all, Manning is retired and secondly, he’s retired. The NFL isn’t going to throw the rulebook at a player that isn’t even a part of their organization anymore.

However it does make me wonder why the NFL is going to interview former Packer and current free agent Mike Neal.  

The NFL is in a no-win situation here. If it sweeps this under the rug and does absolutely nothing, then commissioner Roger Goodell’s public trust goes even further south than where it currently is.

The NFL is going to question those four players, but the NFLPA will enforce what types of questions can and will be asked.

This whole thing would be different if Charlie Sly, the guy that originally came out with the drug allegations, hadn’t recanted his story.

Does that mean that PEDs aren’t in the NFL? By all means no. These are the largest and most vicious athletes on the planet. It only makes sense that athletes then, would try and get any edge possible.

But NFL players have to tread lightly. This came out as a report in Al Jazeera America of all places. Really? Remember this a network that had dreadful ratings before ultimately closing the doors in April. Just think if CBS Sports or ESPN ran with this report?

I don’t believe this report and I doubt that any punishment will result from this. However, it could set the tone with how much digging goes into a steroid story — no matter if it’s true or not.

And that’s what the NFLPA is going to want to stop. They don’t want players to be implicated over accusations on social media or just a hot tip to the NFL office from a fan that has never liked him.

But those players had better be cooperative next month. Because they aren’t just answering questions for themselves, they are also answering them for the next wave of players that implicated.

Accusing a pro player of PEDs is akin to identity theft. It forces the player to reboot his life, retrace his steps and explain himself when he clearly shouldn’t have to do so.

But this is the world we live in now. Thanks to Marion Jones, Barry Bonds and Bill Romanowski, we are much more insulated when it comes to PED talk.

Do I think all four are guilty? No. But that doesn’t mean I don’t think they could be either. 


Cory Jennerjohn is a graduate from UW-Oshkosh and has been in sports media for over 15 years. He was a co-host on "Clubhouse Live" and has also done various radio and TV work as well. He has written for newspapers, magazines and websites. He currently is a columnist for CHTV and also does various podcasts. He recently earned his Masters degree from the University of Iowa. He can be found on Twitter: @Coryjennerjohn

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (17) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Bedrock's picture

The problem with sensationalistic preys upon an unintelligent population. Throw enough darts, hit a target. I love the analogy of darts because they leave a mark no matter if the target is hit or not.

Michalske's picture

Its unfortunate that all of the players are being lumped under the PEDs headline even though the original report did not specify PEDs in all cases -- Matthews was accused of getting painkillers. I suppose you can say not being in as much pain from what an NFL player would call a 'minor' injury (one you can still play with) actually 'enhances' performance, but I for one don't see how an extra couple of vicodin (or whatever) are the same kind of thing as the multiple courses of steroids it takes to maintain extra bulk and muscle.

For that matter, many of these so-called PEDs (for example HGH) are no longer taken for the purpose of bulking up, as they were by Bonds and others back in the day. HGH and other drugs are now taken in short courses to promote healing. So the enhanced performance is to lengthen the effective careers of top performers (yes I am thinking Manning and Peppers here.)

Is that really such a vile thing? Would the NFL and the sport of football really have been that much better off without, say, the last four seasons of Peyton Manning?

Our society needs to rethink this whole business about PEDs and other drugs (and yes, I'm including marijuana for pain relief - the addiction there is much less harmful than opioid abuse.)

The more I think about this issue, the more libertarian I get (and I was pretty far along on that spectrum to start with.)

PETER MAIZ's picture

Good comment. Tobacco and opiates are highly addictive.So is heavy alcohol consumption. Marijuana has been shown to be extremely effective in seizures related to epilepsy. Marijuana is hardly ever addictive and can be obtained without THC (the high portion of the plant).

Michalske's picture

Yes that is pretty much my point. Yet every headline and every other comment on this post discusses Matthews in relation to PEDs, not painkillers.

Michalske's picture

Re Mike Neal, the NFL is interviewing him because he is still looking for a job as a player, and the accusation of PEDs is creating uncertainty and interfering with his ability to sign somewhere.

That means the NFLPA has the same interest in have the league investigate and make a decision on Neal as they do for Matthews, Peppers and Harrison. Manning is done playing -- all that can happen from this is to mar the path to his HOF induction.

Part of me wonders whether excluding Manning is a stronger indicator that the report is a bunch of lies and they don't want Manning to be involved even with the accusation or that the report has substance and the league does not want to have to stain Manning's career with a proven accusation of PEDs.

Ibleedgreenmore's picture

Yeah look where this so called info is coming from. I am not saying anything till any reports come out that are concrete. As was said the mud has been slung, dirt is already on their faces. They have passed all tests that I know of but here we go again.

ricky's picture

Al Jazeera, because of its name, pretty much automatically becomes suspect. Jennerjohn decides that this network has little integrity, and is simply "throwing darts". Why? If he can cite a study or studies that show the network was inaccurate or had poor journalistic ethics, please provide that information.

Now, as to the report itself, the NFL simply doesn't need to actually prove anything. As in the case against Brady and deflation of footballs, they simply need a preponderance of evidence. If found guilty, the players have the right to appeal- to other NFL officials. So, in effect, this is a closed system of "justice".

Are the players guilty? There were rumors that Matthews had used PED's during college, and when his teammate Brian Cushing was busted, the effect of guilt by association was put forward. Peppers, as noted, was busted as a rookie. And James Harrison, who suddenly became a Pro Bowl caliber player in his very late 20's, after being pedestrian for years, is certainly inspiring- or suspicious.

So, I'll simply wait and see, rather than "throw darts" at a defunct news network. Because the accusations were initially levied against Mike Daniels as the conduit for the banned substances. And its not as if Daniels was a name familiar to the casual football fan.

Bottom line, it'll be up to the NFL to decide how diligently they want to pursue this, and all we can do is wait and see.

PETER MAIZ's picture

"Good name in man or woman, dear my lord, is the immediate jewel of their souls. Who steals my purse steals trash; 'tis something, nothing; 'twas mine, 'tis his, and has been slave to thousands; but he that filches from me my good name
Robs me of that which not enriches him,
And makes me poor indeed."

Ibleedgreenmore's picture

Just read another article that said if they can find no credible evidence they will go no further with the investigation.

EdsLaces's picture

I would bet my last dollar that there's a player or multiple players on every single team that is or had been on peds. It's all about who gets caught and who doesn't. It's a terrible thing to be doing because it harms the body and kids look up to these guys and obviously it sends the wrong signals and all that, but the reality is they are grown men they are gonna do what keeps them in the league the longest.

Community Guy's picture

an article critiquing journalism maybe should contain good journalism? all of this is mere commentary, some disingenuous.

if the intent is to begin an online discussion, OK. but i think there is a fear here which should be named.

we probably need to see an open interview of Charlie Sly (interesting name). why did he recant? why was the story done in the first place? even if the story is completely false, we may still follow up and ask: in the modern NFL, what is the situation regarding PED use? should there be policy change?

the league could use this story to bolster its struggle with PEDs. please: no culture of denial or sweeping information under the rug. i think people can sense the PR propaganda when they are given it.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

I guess I think the NFL could easily have swept this under the rug, or to use alternative phrasing, ignored an unreliable news report based on an unreliable source. I think the bulk of Americans had forgotten all about it: I know I pretty much had.

John Galt III's picture

Al -Jazeera - from Qatar - that treats women, gays and foreigners like slaves.

Islam enslaved 20 million West Africans:

If you still like Islam after reading this and bothering to know that they still enslave people in Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and many other ME countries then go find a cotton plantation to buy.

Screw Al-Jazeera.

Oppy's picture

I guess NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, and FOX are all representatives of the KKK, and the BBC is a puppet for the Illuminati/Masonic Temple?

Icebowler's picture

According to what I've read, this Sly guy came up to Green Bay sometime between 2011 and 2013 (you would think he could have been more specific about his dates), but Peppers wasn't a Packer until 2014. The whole thing smells really fishy.

Lphill's picture

Nothing to see here folks keep moving.

Oppy's picture

Even if there wasn't a report suggesting that there's a smoking gun for PED use in pro football.. Would any intelligent fan actually believe that PED use in the NFL isn't wide spread?

A good number of these guys are juicing out of their minds.

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