Packers’ Matthews, Peppers face suspension

Linebackers say they're innocent

If Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers are prepared to talk to NFL officials about their alleged involvement with performance-enhancing drugs, Green Bay’s star linebackers aren’t saying.

Neither Matthews nor Peppers appeared in the Packers’ locker room Tuesday afternoon, when reporters and camera crews milled around for 50 minutes during the team’s media availability.

That left general manager Ted Thompson, who had his scheduled weekly news conference in training camp right after, to speak for the organization in the aftermath of Monday’s bombshell that Matthews and Peppers face suspension by the league.

“It’s kind of as simple as pie,” Thompson said in an opening statement. “We’re going to support our players, we’ve always supported our players, and we will continue to support our players. This is no different in this case.”

Matthews, Peppers, former Packers linebacker Mike Neal and Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison were named in a letter sent by Adolpho Birch, the NFL’s senior vice president of labor policy and league affairs, to the NFL Players Association on Monday.

The letter detailed a plan to indefinitely suspend the four players if they don’t speak with the league by Aug. 25 as part of its investigation into their alleged connection to PEDs.

The allegations against those players, as well as other athletes, were made in a television report by the Al-Jazeera network last December.

Charlie Sly, a former intern at an anti-aging clinic who made the allegations, later recanted his claims.

Matthews and Peppers maintained their innocence when they addressed the matter at the start of training camp July 26.

“It’s bogus,” Matthews said at the time about the drawn-out investigation, “but it’s kind of annoying that I have to continue to deal with this. But, the truth will come out and everything I said when the allegations came out I still stand by, so I just try to kind of put that in the rearview mirror and focus on the season.”

Thompson declined comment Tuesday when asked whether Matthews and/or Peppers had talked to the NFL.

“I’m sure there’s a lot of people that don’t understand what’s going on, that would include probably most of the people in this room, including me,” Thompson said. “It’s a little more complicated than you might want it to be. But, I think the more people pipe in, especially somebody like me, into the whole serenade, the less likely it is that it will work itself out.”

Thompson insisted his evaluation of the team in what’s left of the preseason won’t change because of the possibility of not having Matthews and/or Peppers available for the start of the season in early September.

“We make contingency plans for all of our players because you never know what’s going to happen in a football game,” Thompson said.