By John Boyle Herald Writer
RENTON — The Seattle Seahawks kicked off their final week practice of the regular season Wednesday with cornerback Richard Sherman on the field, but they did so still not knowing if they’ll have one of their best players available for Sunday’s game against St. Louis or beyond.
Sherman, who on Friday had his appeal of a four-game suspension heard by the NFL, still had not learned his fate as of Wednesday afternoon. So Sherman practiced with his team as usual Wednesday, but did so not knowing if it would be his last practice of the season. And while ESPN has reported a ruling will occur by today, Sherman said he still didn’t know when he’ll learn his fate from the NFL.
“No,” he said when asked if he knows the timeline for this process. “I don’t know much more than what you all know.”
So while the Seahawks practiced with their best cornerback Wednesday, they did so knowing he may not be available later in the week if his suspension for violating the league’s policy on performance enhancing substances is upheld. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, who like Sherman said he does not know when the team will hear from the league, said in a press conference prior to practice that he planned to do things a little differently because of the uncertainty.
“Just a bit,” Carroll said. “Just a bit, in that we don’t know what’s going to happen, so we’re not going to go blindly into it. So we are going to get our guys in the rotation a little differently. It won’t change much though. He’s going to get some work today and the other guys will get work as well, but we have it in our minds. We have to be prepared for that.”
As he prepared for Wednesday’s practice, not knowing what his future holds, Sherman was asked if this waiting game is weird for him.
“It’s not weird at all,” he said. “Either the truth is going to come out or it’s not, that’s pretty much all it comes down to… It’s going to be as normal as it always is. I’ll go out there and practice. Shoot, I’ll be happy if (Carroll) rotates more people in, I’ll get some rest. I have no problems with that. It’s going to be normal.”
Asked about the appeals process, Sherman repeated much of what he said after Sunday’s game—that the there were flaws in the testing process, but that that may not help him win his appeal.
“They don’t care if you took it or you didn’t take it, if the sample’s tainted or it isn’t tainted, they say it doesn’t matter,” Sherman said.
Sherman added, “They’re the judge and the jury.”
Sherman said if he loses this appeal, he likely doesn’t have other avenues to pursue that will keep him on the field, but that he’ll still try to do anything he can to fight to clear his name.
“I can’t get back playing regardless, I could just sue the league, and that’s what I’ll probably attempt to do if they suspend me,” he said. “… I’ll take it to a neutral court, because in a neutral court the playing field is even, and we’d win easily.
“I’ll definitely look into it, but hopefully they’ll just do the right thing and the truth will come out, and I’ll still be playing next week.”
If Sherman loses his appeal and is suspended four games, that suspension would carry into the postseason, meaning he would not be eligible to return this season unless Seattle made the Super Bowl. In the unlikely event Seattle jumped up to the No. 2 seed and earn a first-round by, a four-game suspension would end Sherman’s season even if the Seahawks reach the Super Bowl. The Seahawks will have cornerback Brandon Browner, who is serving the final week of his four-game suspension, back for their playoff opener.
Cornerback Marcus Trufant, who has missed fours straight games with a hamstring injury, practiced fully and is no longer listed on the injury report. Walter Thurmond, who also has a hamstring injury, did not practice Wednesday and his status remains in question. Linebacker Leroy Hill missed practice with a hamstring injury suffered in Sunday’s game, but linebacker Malcolm Smith, who Carroll said had a “groin issue” was able to practice fully and was not on the injury report.
Herald Writer John Boyle: firstname.lastname@example.org.