According to Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports, Browner has rejected an offer that would have suspended him until early October 2014. That arrangement would have blocked Browner’s opportunity to hit the free-agent market in March.
It’s possible that further negotiations will result in a compromise.
Per Garafolo, Browner disputes not only his placement in Stage Three of the substance-abuse program upon his return to the NFL in 2011 but also the test that triggered the current violation. Browner claims that the “urine collector used a damaged cup and then poured his urine from that cup into another one,” according to Garafolo, and that Browner’s request to compel testimony from the urine collector at the appeal hearing was denied.
The league’s Medical Review Officer testified at the hearing that he had spoken with the urine collector, who disputed Browner’s contentions.
It’s possible that the league regarded Browner’s allegation as dubious, given that Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman successfully used precisely same argument last year to beat a four-game suspension for violation of the performance-enhancing substances policy. For Browner, who knew he was in Stage Three at the time he provided the sample that tested positive, the high stakes created to a natural temptation to embellish.
The appeal hearing concluded nine days ago. The substance-abuse policy requires that a decision be issued within a reasonable time.