Their names cleared by the NFL on Wednesday, Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers are eager to move on from allegations of performance-enhancing drug use.
“It’s unfortunate that we had to go through that, but it’s over with,” Peppers told reporters following Thursday night’s preseason game in Kansas City. “I’m just trying to move forward. I don’t want to keep talking about it. It’s over now.”
Matthews and Peppers were two of the high-profile players named in “The Dark Side,” a documentary produced by Al-Jazeera America that hinged on hidden-camera video recordings of Charlie Sly, a former intern at an anti-aging clinic in Indianapolis. The documentary debuted on Dec. 27 and the allegations lingered for more than eight months, even though Sly recanted what he said in the documentary.
“Of course that was upsetting,” Peppers said.
Led by the NFL Players Association, Matthews and Peppers, along with their former teammate, Mike Neal, and Steelers linebacker James Harrison, refused to cooperate fully with the investigation because the only “evidence” was the recordings of Sly. Only when the NFL delivered a be-questioned-or-be-suspended ultimatum did the four agree to be interviewed.
“We weren’t willing to fall on the knife for something we didn’t do,” said Matthews, who with Peppers made their first public comments since the first day of training camp.
In retrospect, Matthews said maybe the players would have been better off cooperating with the NFL immediately to prevent the allegations from festering. But the players took a big-picture view of the investigation.
“Who’s to say that somebody can just come out and say anything and, next thing you know, you’re sitting down for something that’s absolutely ridiculous as it was in this case,” Matthews said. “Like I said, I maintained my innocence. I really had nothing to worry about until those ultimatums were put in place and, at that point, we sat down for the interviews and were ultimately cleared.”
Neither player played against Kansas City.
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