The NFL announced today that Seattle cornerback Brandon Browner has been suspended indefinitely for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.
Reports initially broke in late November that Browner could be suspended for up to a year for his violation, which came for using non-performance enhancing drugs.
Browner appealed, citing that the penalty on the grounds that he should not have been regarded as a Stage 3 offender since he didn’t know he was supposed to adhere to requirements of the drug program while he was playing in the CFL from 2007-10.
Browner has not played since Nov. 10 against Atlanta after injuring his groin. However, he has remained on the active roster during his appeal, continuing to be paid.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll had hinted that something might be coming today when he said of Browner that “I think if he was practicing today, he would be able to go, in a limited fashion.”
Being suspended indefinitely means Browner will be out for a calendar year and then can apply for reinstatement.
Seattle has thrived in his absence with Bryon Maxwell stepping into a starting role the past two games and picking off three passes.
Walter Thurmond, who was suspended four games for using non-performance enhancing drugs, will be eligible to return for the regular season finale against the Rams on Dec. 29.
Browner is a free agent after this season, so if the suspension lasts through the end of this season it’s possible he has played his final game for the Seahawks.
There had been reports that Browner’s appeal also included a contention that the urine sample was tainted during the testing process.
Browner fell into Stage 3 of the NFL drug program after reportedly having a failed test while with Denver in 2005-06.
Browner had reportedly turned down an eight-game suspension in the hopes of having it all overturned. Reports indicated that Browner might consider suing the NFL if he lost his appeal.
Browner joined the Seahawks in 2011 as a free agent after four years in the Canadian Football League, and was named to the Pro Bowl his first season, becoming a key member of the self-named Legion of Boom secondary. He started eight games this season after missing the first two with a hamstring injury, making 19 tackles and one interception.
Carroll, asked today why the team had kept Browner on the active roster during his appeal, said:
“I think in respect to the player and what he’s done and what he offers our team. I think all of that, and we were able to do it because of the versatility of some other guys. Had he come back, who would play? It’s a big, great question and one of you would probably ask that question a week from now if he was back. Byron has done a great job. He’s just made it through and he’s done a great job of playing. That Wally Pipp story comes to life sometimes and I’m thrilled about what Byron has done. He’s been such an impact player for us and we had the opportunity to wait it out and see what was going on. This injury thing has kind of fell into the middle of it all. It’s turned out very, very well for us. We’ve been very fortunate with the way it’s turned out so far.”
UPDATE: Here’s a Tweet from Brownner’s agent, Pete Schaffer:
As the great Revolutionary war Admiral J.P. Jones said when refusing to surrender to the British “I have not yet begun to fight” @bbrowner27
— Peter Schaffer (@peterjschaffer) December 19, 2013
UPDATE: Browner just Tweeted this statement:
I want to thank the Seahawks organization for the incredible opportunity they gave me when they took a … (more) http://t.co/036lrICZRE
— Brandon Browner (@bbrowner27) December 19, 2013