When it was time for players and coaches to cast their votes for the NFC Pro Bowl squad, Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman was facing a four-game suspension for violation of the league’s policy against performance-enhancing substances.
Coincidentally or not, Sherman didn’t make it onto the team.
When it was time for 50 media members to vote for a league-wide All-Pro team, Sherman had won his appeal and avoided a suspension. And Sherman appeared on 39 ballots that listed only two corners each.
The difference highlights the impact of leaks regarding positive tests that have not yet been upheld via the internal appeal process. No one is supposed to know about a potential violation until after the appeal process has been concluded, when it becomes an actual violation.
In this case, someone leaked to Adam Schefter of ESPN the fact that Sherman and teammate Brandon Browner were facing four-game suspensions. It’s unclear whether it came from the league office, the Seahawks, the players, or their agents. While a fine of up to $500,000 applies when the confidentiality is broken by the league or a team, there’s no way of proving who blabbed.
And reporters have no reason or incentive to withhold the information when it comes to them. Though some in the past have railed on the disclosure of sensitive information from positive drug tests to pre-draft Wonderlic scores, the information gets out, and there’s nothing wrong with reporting it.
For Sherman, if the information hadn’t gotten out, he’d most likely be on the Pro Bowl roster, too. But he ended up with a more exclusive honor — and he’s still playing for the most exclusive honor of all.