In response to the NFL’s desire to investigate players named in an Al Jazeera report that named them as potential HGH users, the NFLPA has released a statement.
“The NFL has chosen to initiate an investigation of these players based upon now-recanted statements that appeared in an Al Jazeera report. The NFLPA requested from the NFL any additional evidence supporting an investigation of the players; the NFL did not provide any such evidence, nor did they inform the NFLPA or the players that any such evidence exists. Instead, the NFL has decided to publicly pressure the players into submission. We will continue to advise our players about their rights and hold the NFL accountable.”
James Harrison, who was named in the report, released his own statement.
Most of those expectations are reasonable; Especially that Roger Goodell “must be present.”
The best thing we can call the NFL here is badly inconsistent. The worst thing we can say is that this league is so desperate for attention that it will do do anything to get it. In which case, mission accomplished, so long as the NFL subscribes to the “any publicity is good publicity” theory.
This is really a bad look for the NFL. We’d be remiss if we didn’t point out that this is one of the few lulls on the NFL’s calendar. The draft is long over and training camps are still about a month away.
It’s not like anyone is going to forget about the NFL, but that’s never stopped this league in its attempts to be front page news every day of the year. Remember, this is league that’s now spent the better part of two years making a big deal about one of the best players in its history possibly deflating footballs. There is no way the NFL would pass on a chance to blow up an HGH report — assuming of course that the NFL can blow up said report on its own terms and timeline.
Now, of course the comeback is that HGH is a serious matter. Given the high impact nature of football, any PED use is a potentially huge problem. Heck, it could one day be a matter of life and death. So when these reports come out, they need to be investigated fully, right?
Sure, the only problem is that the NFL didn’t make any of this a big deal when the reports actually came out. In fact, they did quite the opposite.
These reports became public knowledge during the 2015 season. More than that, the primary source actually recanted all of the statements that started the entire mess (details here).
If this really was a big deal, why didn’t the NFL lean on its broadcast partners to talk about them during the games? Heck, why didn’t they lean on those partners to debunk the reports during the league’s broadcasts?
None of that happened. This was basically treated like a non-issue. If it got any mention, it was only in passing, roughly par to the kind of attention that broadcasters would pay to a player getting a speeding ticket during the week.
If it’s a big issue now, why wasn’t it an issue then?
We’ll never know. But during the season, the NFL already has all of the publicity it could desire. The last thing they want then is something that makes the NFL look bad, that doesn’t “protect the shield.” In June, that’s not such a problem. Not protecting the shield is bad, but not as bad as ignoring the shield.