PITTSBURGH (AP) " Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison is willing to meet with the NFL to discuss an alleged link to performance-enhancing drugs " but only five days after a deadline the league has imposed while threatening him and three other players with indefinite suspensions.
NFL Players Association attorney Heather McPhee sent a letter to the NFL on Thursday, accusing it of trying to "bully and publicly shame" Harrison without offering evidence beyond a brief mention in a television interview last year that was recanted by the accuser.
"When it came down to it, (if) I got the suspension, the bigger outcome wasn't really worth it," Harrison said after the Steelers' 17-0 home exhibition loss to Philadelphia on Thursday night. "I wouldn't be on the team, it would hurt the team, it would hurt my teammates and coaches, so it was easier to do the interview."
Green Bay's Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers, and free-agent Mike Neal also were threatened with suspensions. It was not immediately known if a similar meeting was being proposed by the union.
"I'm just glad the process is moving forward," Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy said after the Packers' 20-12 home victory over Oakland on Thursday night.
"As already has been stated, as an organization, we support Clay and Julius. And we're looking to get this resolved as soon as possible."
The league's deadline for cooperation from the four players is Aug. 25. McPhee's letter says Harrison would meet with the NFL at 5 p.m. on Aug. 30 at the team's facility, and would only discuss the portion of the Al-Jazeera interview that mentioned the 14-year veteran.
In the report, Charlie Sly, who worked as an intern at an anti-aging clinic, made claims of PED use against several athletes, including the four linebackers. Sly later recanted his claims.
"Is the NFL aware of any credible evidence " other than the recanted remarks by one individual shown by Al-Jazeera " that indicates that there is any validity to the remarks about Mr. Harrison?" McPhee wrote to Adolpho Birch, the NFL's senior vice president for labor policy and league affairs.
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said the league has yet to respond to the letter.
Retired quarterback Peyton Manning also was cited in the report, but the NFL cleared him after a separate investigation in which the former Indianapolis and Denver star granted interviews and provided all records sought by league investigators.
Harrison is a longtime leader for the Steelers. Matthews and Peppers are key cogs in the Packers' defense, and Neal spent the past six seasons with Green Bay.
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This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings