James Harrison said in an affidavit provided to the NFL that he has never violated the league's policy on performance-enhancing drugs and also has never met the man who alleged to Al-Jazeera America that he supplied the Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker with an illegal substance.
The affidavit, dated July 11, 2016, was included with a letter from Heather M. McPhee, the NFL Players Association's associate general counsel to Adolpho Birch, the NFL's senior vice president of labor policy. A copy of the letter was obtained by ESPN.
The union included the affidavit, along with a transcript of the only references to Harrison in the Al-Jazeera report, to support its position that there is no need for Harrison to agree to an in-person interview with the NFL as the league lacks evidence to support such an interview.
Harrison is the only one of the four active players named in the Al-Jazeera report to supply the league with a sworn affidavit. Green Bay Packers linebackers Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers and free-agent linebacker Mike Neal were also named in Al-Jazeera report. The NFLPA has previously resisted requests for in-person interviews with the NFL on their behalf as well.
Charlie Sly -- the source for the Al-Jazeera report that implicated the four aforementioned players as well as retired quarterback Peyton Manning and athletes from other sports -- has since recanted his remarks. The NFLPA has argued that because of that, the players should not have to discuss the matter with the NFL. Birch has previously disputed the relevance of that argument.
The Al-Jazeera America documentary "The Dark Side" aired last December. In the transcript, which was provided by the NFLPA with the letter, Sly tells an undercover reporter that he supplied Harrison with a substance named D2 or Delta-2. Harrison, however, says in the affidavit that to the "best of my knowledge and recollection, I have never met the individual who is apparently named Charles Sly, whose remarks appeared" in the report.
Since he doesn't know Sly, Harrison says has "not had email, text messaging or other communications with Charles Sly" and has "never been supplied with a substance called 'D-2' or 'Delta-2' that the person who appears to be named Charles Sly refers to in the Al Jazeera report."
Harrison ends the affidavit by stating: "I have never ingested the substance or product called 'Delta-2'" and "I have never violated the NFL Policy Performance Enhancing Substances."
The NFLPA points out in the letter that Harrison's affidavit addresses each of the specific references to him in the supplied transcript.
"In the absence of the existence of any documented, credible evidence, this affidavit constitutes reasonable cooperation by this employee," McPhee writes.
Notably, none of the letters previously sent by the union were on behalf of Manning, who is a former player and could decide to cooperate with the league investigation even as the union defends its current players from having to do so. The NFLPA has been in contact with Manning, whose cooperation could conceivably put the other four players in a difficult position from a public relations standpoint. Some people familiar with his thinking have previously told ESPN that they believe he will cooperate.
This dispute between the NFL and its union came to a head last month when Harrison, who has a history of public arguments with the league over discipline matters, said commissioner Roger Goodell would have to go to Harrison's house if Goodell wanted to interview him.
ESPN's Dan Graziano contributed to this report.