Packers' Neal: 'I never took any steroids'
GREEN BAY, Wis. — One failed appeal with the NFL hasn't stopped Green Bay Packers defensive end Mike Neal from trying again in an effort to overturn his league-imposed four-game suspension. In fact, Neal is claiming he was not given "a fair chance" the first time.
The NFL suspended Neal in March for what it deemed was a violation of the league's policy on performance-enhancing substances. But Neal insists that his failed test was for a much different reason than trying to add speed and strength.
"It was Adderall," Neal said Tuesday of the prescription medication he was taking to treat obsessive compulsive disorder. "I'm not ashamed to say it. We're going through everything right now to get my prescription finalized with the NFL and hopefully be able to re-appeal my situation.
"I never took any steroids. I've never done any HGH. It was an Adderall situation. I've already appealed it once, and the NFL didn't give me a fair chance. But I'm pretty sure that most guys would try to appeal after not getting a fair chance. I think that once everything is finalized and we go from there, I think there's a chance that I might be able to play."
If the suspension stands, Neal won't be allowed to play until Week 5. But he's making plans to be play much sooner than that.
"I'm getting ready for Week 1 because I'm going to appeal my situation, and I plan on playing Week 1 until further notice," Neal said. "If you look at Adderall, are you going to come in here and run faster (and) jump higher?
"In my eyes, I didn't do anything wrong. In my eyes, I just went and sought help that I thought I needed. I didn't go through the team, I went through another doctor. If that was my fault for not being responsible and going through the team, that was my fault and I'll take that.
"But as far as I'm concerned, if you consider Adderall a performance-enhancing drug, then I think that everybody would be fired from their jobs."
Neal is currently participating in the Packers' offseason training activities and is fully healthy after spending nearly all of last season overcoming a left knee injury in which he damaged cartilage in the process.
Neal was selected by Green Bay in the second round of the 2010 draft, but he has recorded only four tackles and one sack in his first two seasons, both of which have been hindered by injury.
"I don't have to prove anything to anybody," Neal said. "Proving it to myself has been the testament to everything that's going on. There's a lot of people that have probably turned their backs on me and say, 'Well, he needs to be traded,' and, 'He need to be out of here.' I hear so much stuff.
"When you hear all that stuff and you've dealt with what I've dealt with, your confidence starts becoming low. To prove to myself that I belong here and this is where I need to be, that's everything to me."
While Neal certainly has his detractors, he's had plenty of support within the Packers locker room.
"My teammates have always had my back, especially with our defensive line," Neal said. "We're so close-knit in there that, no matter what goes on, whatever happens, like everything I've been through, they've been the first to know.
"They've been the first people I've texted and the words of encouragement I get from them is greatly appreciated. You just know that no matter what, they're going to have your back."
At the moment, Neal is about as far back on the depth chart as he can get. Neal mentioned that he's barely getting any snaps on defense in practice and that when he does, it's with the third-stringers. It's a far fall for a player who entered last season expected to start on the line and be a more than adequate replacement for Cullen Jenkins, who left the team as a free agent.
"In the back of my mind, I never was not that guy," Neal said. "I just never had a fair chance to prove myself."
However, head coach Mike McCarthy hasn't given up on Neal yet.
"I think Mike's a totally different man today than he was when he came back from the injury in training camp," McCarthy said Tuesday. "He's more explosive. He's in great shape. He's driven. He's been humbled. He's gone through some challenges. I'm hopeful, and I see a lot of signs that he'll continue to grow from the situations that he's been through in the past.
"It looks like he's back to full strength. He looks good."
Regardless of whether Neal is able to win his second appeal with the NFL, he believes 2012 will be a much better season for him.
"History repeats itself," Neal said. "I was hurt my first two (college) seasons (at Purdue), and my third year got me drafted. My first two years in high school I was hurt and I ended up getting a scholarship. Maybe my first two (NFL) years I've had will lead me to the Pro Bowl."
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