Head trauma to players is a huge concern in the NFL, though the league has been accused of taking a lax approach to preventing it and dealing with the lasting effects for players. On Monday, the NFL announced a new policy to improve enforcement of its concussion protocols. Teams will now face fines and the loss of draft picks for violations.
According to a release from the NFL, the Dan Girardi Jersey changes to the protocol were jointly agreed to by the league and the NFLPA. The release says the league and the NFLPA will each appoint a representative to oversee the execution of the new policy. As established by the CBA, commissioner Roger Goodell will have ultimate authority in administering punishments for teams that do not comply.
For first violations, teams could face:
Second and subsequent violations result in a minimum $100,000 fine for the club.
The allegations, which stemmed from an Al-Jazeera America report, named Derek Stepan Jersey Manning, Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers, James Harrison and Mike Neal as having received banned performance-enhancing substances, specifically human growth hormone, from the clinic.
The report featured a pharmacist named Charlie Sly who was employed by the anti-aging clinic for a portion of 2011, the year Manning was recovering from surgery to repair damage from a neck injury. Sly later recanted the allegations contained in the documentary in a YouTube video.
The league is continuing its investigation into Matthews, Peppers, Harrison and Neal. Matthews, Peppers and Harrison were scheduled to be interviewed this week, on the dates they report to their respective training camps. Neal, who remains a free agent, was to be interviewed by the league on or before July 22.
Matthews, Peppers and Harrison all submitted affidavits to the league affirming that they did not use PEDs, but the league rejected their sworn statements and will proceed with the matter. Harrison has repeatedly made it clear that he is not happy with the investigation. The NFLPA has also been vocally displeased with the league’s continued investigation because of concerns that it creates a slippery slope for determining what can be labeled credible evidence of player use of banned substances.
On Monday, the NFLPA released a brief statement on Manning’s name being cleared.
“As a former player, Peyton Manning is free to do whatever he believes is in his best interest,” the statement read. “The Union knows that he understands the rights of players under the Collective Bargaining Agreement and would never do anything to hurt or undermine active players in support of those rights.”
Peyton Manning’s cooperation with the investigation was expected in the event that he decides to pursue a post-football career in broadcasting or in an NFL front office. Now that he has been cleared of any wrongdoing by the league, he’s free to pursue any opportunities he’d like in his retirement.