As Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman waits for a ruling on the appeal of his suspension, he’s inclined to push the issue to court — if he can.
“I wish I could,” Sherman said regarding the possibility of the Wapner-Llewelyn option after Sunday night’s thumping of the 49ers. “I don’t know if it’s possible. If I could pursue it further, because I’d win in a neutral court, but I don’t know if I can pursue it further.”
Technically, he can pursue the matter in court. But he’d have to prove that the outcome of the arbitration procedure that arises from the collective bargaining process should be disregarded, and that’s a high standard.
Others have tried, and few (if any) have prevailed. The problem is that the players don’t have the tools at their disposal to challenge irregularities in the collection and testing of their urine samples.
As we’ve previously reported, Sherman planned to raise during the appeal alleged defects in the collection process. Adam Schefter of ESPN reported on Sunday that the cup containing Sherman’s sample was broken, that a second cup was placed under the leaking cup, that the seal on the second cup was broken, and that the chain of custody also was broken.
Under baseball’s testing procedures, that would be enough to overturn the outcome. Since a strict-liability standard is applied to the presence of banned substances in the player’s urine, a strict-liability standard is applied to the testing process. If there’s any flaw, the entire test is rejected.
But NFL and the NFLPA didn’t agree to procedures that impose such stringent obligations on the test collector. Which underscores the notion that the appeals aren’t lost in the hearing room, but that they were forfeited at the bargaining table.