James Harrison says he'll follow union's advice on whether to cooperate with PED probe

James Harrison says he'll follow union's advice on whether to cooperate with PED probe
Pittsburgh's James Harrison stretches during practice on July 29. (Gene J. Puskar / Associated Press)

James Harrison is fine with talking to investigators looking into PED allegations against him and several other athletes. But he doesn’t want to set a bad precedent for other football players.

That’s why the Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker is  waiting to see what the NFL Players Assn. advises him to do about the Aug. 25 deadline the league has gave him and three other players —  Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers of the Green Bay Packers, and free agent Mike Neal — on Monday to be interviewed as part of the investigation or face an indefinite suspension.

"I don't have a problem doing the interview. Come to my house. Bring Roger [Goodell] with you," Harrison told reporters on Tuesday.

But when asked why not just get the process over with, Harrison responded: "If that's the case, then somebody could come out and say James Harrison is a pedophile. They are going to suspend me, put me under investigation for being a pedophile just because somebody said it? I'm not going to answer questions for every little thing some Tom, Dick and Harry comes up with."

A man named Charlie Sly made the PED allegations against Harrison and other athletes in an Al-Jazeera report in December. He has since recanted his claims, but the NFL informed Harrison and the others in January that it would investigate the claims on its own.

"I'll do what I have to do. They'll do what they have to do," Harrison said of the NFL. "We'll make that decision when that time comes...I just am doing what I'm advised to do [by the NFLPA]. It's the right thing to do."

The NFLPA has yet to comment on the deadline.

Also on Tuesday, Harrison made it clear he suspects that the NFL’s random drug tests aren’t so random.

Check out how he says the word “random” — and how many times he says it — in the Facebook video he recorded just before taking the test Tuesday morning.

The video also shows Steelers union representative Ramon Foster repeating the word “random.”

In a memo to the NFL Players Assn. on Monday, Adolpho Birch, NFL senior vice president of labor policy and league affairs, said the league has made “at least seven attempts” to arrange interviews with the players.

In place of any interviews, the NFLPA sent an affidavit on behalf of each player. But Birch said in his memo that the affidavits were “wholly devoid of any detail” and that an assertion in Neal’s had been determined by the league to be “demonstrably false.”

NFLPA attorney Heather McPhee wrote on Harrison's behalf in his affidavit: “Neither the CBA nor the policy state that a player must agree to an in-person interview based upon random, baseless verbal remarks or face discipline for a failure to cooperate with a league investigation.”

In February, Harrison posted an Instagram video of himself about to be randomly drug tested by the league the day after announcing he hoped to return for a 14th NFL season this year at age 38.


10:40 a.m.: This article has been updated with comments Harrison made to reporters on Tuesday.

This article was originally published at 7:50 a.m.