By Brady Henderson
Resolution finally came Wednesday in Brandon Browner’s suspension appeal, and the verdict wasn’t a favorable one for the Seahawks and their cornerback.
Browner was suspended indefinitely, without pay and effectively immediately for an alleged violation of the NFL’s substance-abuse policy. The league’s announcement ends three weeks of uncertainty that began when news broke that Browner was facing a one-year suspension, reportedly for marijuana use.
Seahawks cornerback Brandon Browner says he’ll continue to fight his indefinite suspension from the NFL. (AP)
The announcement is an indication that Browner’s appeal was denied. According 710 ESPN Seattle’s John Clayton, Browner unsuccessfully argued that he was never notified prior to NFL-administered drug tests that he missed while he was out of the league. Because of those missed tests – Browner contended, according to Clayton – he was wrongfully advanced to Stage 3 of the NFL’s drug program, which made him eligible for a lengthy suspension with another failed test.
Browner reportedly turned down an offer of a reduced suspension, trying instead to have it overturned completely.
After the league’s announcement, Browner released a statement via Twitter in which he thanked the Seahawks and their fans and vowed to further appeal his suspension.
“I believe in my innocence and will continue to fight with all legal resources available to me to,” it reads, in part.
Browner’s agent, Peter Schaffer, indicated the same thing in a tweet that included his client’s Twitter handle and a quote from Revolutionary War figure John Paul Jones: “I have not yet begun to fight.”
Among Browner’s options is pursuing litigation in federal court, Clayton said Wednesday while noting that he may have a case based on his contention that he wasn’t at fault for the missed drug tests.
Browner had been eligible to play during his appeal, just unable to because of a hamstring injury he sustained in Seattle’s Week-10 win over Atlanta. The Seahawks had a bye the following week, which is when news broke that Browner and fellow cornerback Walter Thurmond were each facing suspensions. Thurmond began serving his while Browner appealed, and since then Seattle’s defense hasn’t skipped a beat thanks to the backups who have stepped in.
Byron Maxwell has started opposite Richard Sherman on the outside – picking off three passes over the last two games – while Jeremy Lane has assumed Thurmond’s role in Seattle’s nickel packages. Each was a sixth-round pick – Maxwell in 2011, Lane a year later – and each has played well enough to force a difficult decision when Thurmond becomes eligible to return in Week 17.
The same would have been true had Browner returned, but his suspension ends his season and potentially his career with the Seahawks. He’s an unrestricted free agent after this season, and according to reports won’t be able to apply for reinstatement for a year.
“I want to thank the Seahawks organization for the incredible opportunity they gave me when they took a chance on a player who was out of the NFL and playing in the CFL for 4 years,” wrote Browner, who is 29. “I also want to thank all of my teammates, coaches, trainers, staff and the 12’s for their support, respect, and friendship and for helping me grow into the player, father, and person I am today.
“I have been treated with nothing but first class by everyone associated with the Seattle Seahawks and for that I am forever grateful. Although I disagree with the circumstances surrounding my suspension, I accept responsibility for all of my actions and I apologize for any that causes any unflattering reflections of my family and the Seahawks.”
This another change in fortunes for Browner, whose football career has seen a few of them. He went from NFL reject to CFL standout before signing with Seattle, beginning a tenure that has included some ups and downs. He’s made a Pro Bowl and developed into one of the game’s better cornerbacks thanks to his uniquely physical style. He’s also served a four-game suspension for performance-enhancing drugs, missed time with injuries and been temporarily benched for lapses in coverage.
The Seahawks gave Browner a raise before the season, a sign of their appreciation for a player who had outplayed his contract and was a year away from a more substantial payday as a free agent. That’s now put on hold as he fights to return to the NFL – whenever and wherever that might be.
Follow Brady Henderson on Twitter @BradyHenderson.