By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) — The NFL is finally getting around to investigating that pesky PED report from the now-defunct Al Jazeera America network which broke back in December.

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According to Tom Pelissero of USA Today, the league will soon be interviewing the players named in the report.

That is, all the players except for Peyton Manning.

That’s not without reason. Given that Manning is retired, he is no longer a member of the NFLPA, so even if the league wanted to force the Super Bowl-winning quarterback to sit down and answer questions, they currently lack the authority to do so.

The players who will be interviewed, per request of league exec Adolpho Birch, are Julius Peppers and Clay Matthews of the Packers, and James Harrison of the Steelers. Mike Neal, formerly of the Packers but currently unsigned, will also be interviewed, per Pelissero’s report.

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Pelissero did note that the investigation into Manning is “progressing,” but didn’t offer any more details. Back in March, the NFL claimed that it would continue to investigate Manning despite his retirement.

The NFL claimed that the long delay in interviewing players is due to the NFLPA’s ignoring of multiple requests for interviews, per Pelissero.

For the active players, the scheduled interviews could be bad news. As evidenced by Richie Incognito in Miami and Tom Brady in New England, the NFL has proven to not let facts interfere with an investigation reaching its predetermined outcome. At the same time, the vilification of PED users — who are tapped on the wrist with a standard, four-game suspension — has always paled in comparison to the attention garnered by the aforementioned cases.

With Manning, administering any potential punishment would obviously be a mostly futile endeavor. Without the ability to suspend someone for four games, there’s not much the NFL could do if it concluded that Manning — and not his wife — was the intended recipient of the HGH which was sent to his house in Florida.

Whatever the end result may be, the entire process has played out in slow motion, making it a worthwhile question to wonder just how badly the NFL wants to find the truth of the matter. Certainly, the fact that Manning never refuted that the drugs were shipped to his house do lend credence to Charlie Sly’s since-recanted (at the urging of private investigators hired by Manning) claims. Not helping the NFL’s cause was MLB’s suspension of Taylor Teagarden, who unknowingly admitted on camera in the documentary to having taken PEDs.

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The NFL’s true intentions in the matter became a subject of debate when ESPN’s Outside The Lines reported that the NFL was not cooperating with a joint investigation headed by MLB and the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. The NFL denied the report, stating the league was working with the other agencies, but the league’s failed attempts to refute OTL’s reports on the NFL’s interference in an important concussion study tend to give OTL the advantage in terms of public trust.