The NFL wants to speak with four players who may or may not have used performance-enhancing drugs. James Harrison, Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers and Mike Neal, all implicated in an Al Jazeera drug report, have been given an ultimatum: speak to the league by Aug. 25, or be suspended on Aug. 26.
The players can’t do a darn thing about it, either.
“It’s collectively bargained,” NFL Network Total Access host Dan Hellie told Damon Amendolara, who was filling in as host of CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “This is something that they gave away and they’re not going to be able to get back until the new CBA – and it’s a 10-year deal. Yeah, he’s judge, jury and executioner. Right, wrong or indifferent, that’s the reality of the situation. The NFLPA, I’m sure, is going to fight it, as they do most things. I don’t know that they’re going to win.”
It’ll be interesting to see how the players react to this, but Hellie knows exactly what he would do.
“If I’m these guys, I just go in, didn’t do anything, don’t know what it’s about, done,” he said. “I think the league moves on. This isn’t something that I believe the NFL wants to have in the headline and have it drag out for an entire season. They’ve been through the wringer with Deflategate and we saw how that went. They want to do their due diligence. They want these guys to come in and talk to the commissioner and tell their side of the story, and in my mind, I think (it) goes away at that point – unless they find something that they feel a need to suspend these guys. But you can’t just willingly disobey the commissioner and the league and say, ‘I’m not coming in.’ . . . The commissioner works for the owners. Those are his bosses. He’s going to go by the word of the CBA, and . . . he has the power to make these decisions.”
But isn’t this a slippery slope for the NFL to go down, especially considering the fact that the four aforementioned players didn’t fail a drug test?
“I can understand that perspective,” Hellie said, “but I just think when you are the commissioner’s office and you ask to meet with the players and they just say no, you have to take a stance. I understand that they didn’t necessarily fail a test, but to investigate a report, to follow up on that, to ask for some open communication with those who are involved in the report, I think it’s reasonable.”
In other NFL news, the Titans traded Dorial Green-Beckham to Philadelphia for offensive lineman Dennis Kelly on Tuesday. Green-Beckham caught 32 balls for 549 yards – 17.2 yards per catch – and four touchdowns as a rookie in Tennessee.
“I think the primary concern with him was the consistency,” Hellie said. “I think another concern they had was his dedication. His weight has really yo-yoed since he’s been there. The second half of last season, DGB was relatively productive. The only rookie receiver in the NFL to put up better numbers was Amari Cooper. But they still weren’t sold on him. . . . I don’t feel like they thought that he was going to be a factor despite the fact that he’s huge and uber-athletic. He’s 6-5, 230 pounds. They’re able to acquire Dennis Kelly, who they think is going to be a productive backup lineman, and for them, that’s more valuable than a sixth- or seventh-string receiver that’s going to be battling to make the team.”
Indeed, Green-Beckham never quite found his footing in Tennessee, which may have been no one’s fault but his own.
“For a young quarterback like Marcus Mariota, there needs to be that level of trust – and he just didn’t have it in DGB,” Hellie said. “Andre Johnson was in camp for three days. Obviously Andre Johnson is one for he best receivers in NFL history. A little long in the tooth, as we saw last year in Indy, but he already had more trust in Andre Johnson in three days than he had with DGB after a year-and-a-half.”
Looking at the college ranks, LSU running back Leonard Fournette sprained his ankle during a team scrimmage and was seen in a walking boot. Fournette, 21, will likely be one of the top prospects in next year’s NFL Draft, so should the New Orleans native consider sitting out his junior season? And if he did, how might that affect his draft stock?
“It’s a great question because some of the guys we have around here have worked in front offices and NFL teams, and I’ve asked them that very question,” Hellie said. “They said they would question his desire and competitiveness, (but) they would understand the move. The last time I think that people were really talking about this was with Jadeveon Clowney. It didn’t hurt his draft stock, yet we haven’t seen him live up to that potential, and I think (how he) played his last season, he was very conservative. It wasn’t the same Clowney that we saw. So, in my mind, what’s better? Going out there and kind of half-stepping it, or not playing at all?
“I do think we are going to see (a player sit out) at some point,” Hellie continued. “I don’t know if it’s going to be with Fournette. This guy’s special. This is a Todd Gurley-type back. This is a once-every-five-years guy who is going to be a top-10 pick whether he plays this season or not.”