NFL to follow up after Berrian says he didn't get calls back from hotline

Updated: October 30, 2008, 8:58 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

The NFL provides a hotline for players to contact if they want to find out if supplements contain ingredients banned by the league. However, Minnesota Vikings receiver Bernard Berrian said sometimes there's nobody at the other end of the line.

Bernard Berrian

Berrian

In an interview with Sirius satellite radio, Berrian said he had tried twice to call the hotline and never got a call back, before getting a reply on his third attempt.

In an e-mail to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said the league would "follow up" on Berrian's comments to make sure the hotline is operating properly.

"You've got to take some responsibility and call into that hotline [to inquire about the legality of certain products]," Berrian said. "But I know one thing about that hotline. I've called twice before and actually never gotten ahold of anybody sometimes. So even when you try to do the right thing sometimes it is still hard to get ahold of somebody and really find out what you're really taking."

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Berrian talked about the hotline after being asked about teammates Pat Williams and Kevin Williams, both of whom reportedly are facing suspensions for taking a banned weight-loss diuretic.

In the e-mail to the Star Tribune, Aiello said the hotline is maintained by an independent group and it is open during "extended business hours." Players who leave messages are supposed to get calls back, something the league will investigate after hearing Berrian's comments.

Earlier this week, Vikings coach Brad Childress said it's on the players to know what they are putting in their bodies.

"They get a list of what's in and what's out," Childress said. "But it's up to them, once again, whether they're reading labels. I mean, strict liability is strict liability."

Fox Sports has reported that the Williamses, who both made the Pro Bowl last season and anchor the Vikings' stout run defense, are facing four-game suspensions for failing a drug test.

In all, six to eight players around the league are appealing findings that they took a weight-loss diuretic that also is considered a masking agent for steroids.

Four players have already received four-game suspensions for violating the policy this season, and all of them claimed they unknowingly took products that were illegal. But the NFL's guidelines don't appear to allow for any grace for maintained innocence.

Safety Darren Sharper, the team's union rep, concurred with his coach.

"That's up to us. That's our job. You have to look at the list and see what's on it," Sharper said. "Mistakes can't happen."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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