After Sunday’s game against the Bills, half of cornerback Brandon Browner’s four-game suspension will have been served. And cornerback Richard Sherman’s appeal hearing will not have even happened — even though both players generated their positive samples on the same day. (Allegedly.)
As confirmed by Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune, Sherman’s hearing didn’t occur as previously scheduled on Friday, December 14. Per Williams, there is no new date for the hearing.
Of course, Browner could be in the same position, if he had opted to fight. And the Seahawks would have then faced not having both players for the same four games.
In most cases, the appeal process unfolds without the media knowing that the player faces a suspension. Thus, the wheels often turn slowly, since there’s no external pressure or attention.
As NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told PFT in 2010: “It’s not unusual for some cases to take a lengthy amount of time from specimen collection through the appeals process and the announcement. All of the time periods and protocols in place are designed to ensure that the result is accurate and the player has every appropriate due process protection. Requirements such as notice, independent verification, additional investigation, hearing rights and lab procedures ensure these objectives, but they also add steps and time.”
For example, Texans linebacker Brian Cushing generated a positive urine sample in September 2009, and his suspension was not finalized until the following offseason. Last year, Broncos linebacker D.J. Williams and defensive lineman Ryan McBean saw their potential suspensions linger through the postseason, prompting a not-so-subtle suggestion from Williams’ lawyer that the league tapped the brakes in order to avoid disrupting Tebowmania. In both cases, no one knew the players were facing suspensions.
The difference here is that the media and the fans are watching and waiting for Sherman’s appeal to be completed. As of right now, he’d miss at least up to two postseason games, if the suspension commences by next Sunday. Given that we currently can recall no four-game PED suspensions spilling into the postseason (feel free to refresh our memory in the comments, as if you need an engraved invitation), the league could be inclined to find a way to defer punishment until 2013.
Either way, it’s good that the Seahawks have Sherman today. Browner’s replacement, Walter Thurmon, won’t play due to a hamstring injury suffered in practice on Wednesday, forcing rookie Byron Maxwell into the starting lineup.