By John Boyle Herald Writer
RENTON — Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll can’t say much about the current situation facing his top two cornerbacks, who are reportedly facing a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s policy on performance enhancing drugs.
What Carroll did say, however, is that he is preparing this week as if Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner will be available for Seattle’s game in Chicago.
“As of right now, yeah, I’m planning on those guys playing,” Carroll said.
Browner and Sherman are appealing their punishment, which is why they are expected to be available this week — ESPN’s Adam Schefter, who broke the news of the failed drug tests Sunday night, reported Monday that the cornerback duo will play this week. Players appealing discipline are allowed to continue to practice and play in games while the process works itself out, and in many cases news of the suspension doesn’t come out until there is resolution in the case.
Carroll can’t get into details on Sherman and Browner’s situation unless he wants to face a stiff fine.
“Really, we can’t comment on that at all,” Carroll said. “That is a situation between the players and the league, and we have no position to comment in any way about it.”
When asked if he was concerned about two more potential suspensions seeing as the Seahawks have had three other players suspended for PEDs dating back to last season (guard John Moffitt, tackle Allen Barbre and safety Winston Guy), Carroll reiterated that he couldn’t talk about the topic.
“Let me do it this way, because it’s so important that we do this properly,” he said. “I’m not going to comment about it. That’s the best way to do this. This is a league issue and at this point I’m just going to keep it there, and I hope you can respect that that’s the way we have to do that. We’ll talk about it later or in a general, broader sense when we can.”
According to multiple reports, both players positive tests were for a banned stimulant, reported to have been Adderall, a drug commonly used to treat ADHD (Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder).
And while teams and coaches can’t talk about drug tests and suspensions, players and their agents can certainly defend themselves. On Sunday night, Sherman proclaimed his innocence via Twitter, writing, “This is issue will be resolved soon and the truth will come out. Not worried.” Sherman also told NFL.com that he has not “taken anything” that would cause him to fail a drug test.
A day later, Browner’s agent said his client was innocent as well.
“Brandon Browner has no knowledge of how any illegal substance could have gotten into his system,” Peter Schaffer said in a phone interview. “He is an outstanding person and a very good football player, and he takes tremendous care of his body and he is very careful with what he puts into it. We’re exploring all avenues to try and figure out how any substance out of the ordinary would be in his system.”
And contrary to prior reports that the players were notified of their failed tests in October, Schaffer said, “We got the notice from the league last week.”
Schaffer said he can’t say anything specific about the appeals process, but said in general the appeals process starts within 20 days of that notification. Extenuating circumstances, such as the need for evidence experts, can cause the process to drag on for a longer period of time however. As to whether or not Browner’s appeal could take longer than the 20 days to be heard, Schaffer said it is too early to know.
“I can’t comment on the specifics of this one,” he said. “It’s too early to tell what we’re going to need, what witnesses and evidence and experts are going to be required so there is no way to even guess at this point.”
And even though Carroll can’t talk specifically about Browner and Sherman, he is happy about the depth at the position were the Seahawks in a situation where they had to play without their starters.
“We have a very solid young bunch of guys who have been with us a long time, and also Marcus (Trufant) has been there for a long while,” Carroll said. “Jeremy Lane has been doing things for us that we’re excited about, and he’s a very exciting football player. (Byron) Maxwell has done a great job for us on special teams, and when he gets his chances he does good stuff, so we’d expect him to be a contributor whenever we call on him. These guys are ready to go. We have Walter Thurmond ready to go, that’s a really cool deal to have him ready to play. We’ve had him prepared for weeks, so all of those guys are on call. It’s a pretty strong position for us in general.”
Herald Writer John Boyle: firstname.lastname@example.org.