Hearing officer breaks from precedent, buys Sherman’s argument on collection irregularities


In a departure from past precedent, the NFL’s internal process overturned the four-game suspension of Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman based on alleged discrepancies in the sample-collection process.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, hearing officer Bob Wallace, in what may have been his first appeal hearing (and, from the league’s perspective, possibly his last), applied the same WADA-style accountability to the collection process that Ryan Braun utilized to overcome a 50-game suspension imposed by Major League Baseball.

The argument is fairly simple.  If the player will be strictly liable for any substance determined to have been in his system, the process should likely be held to a high standard.  Thus, any irregularity or deficiency will result in the test being scuttled.

That’s not the standard applied in the past by hearing officer Harold Henderson.  The question moving forward is whether that same requirement will be used in future cases.

As one source explained it, the standard should now be codified in the league’s policies, in order to ensure that every player accused of testing positive has a fair opportunity to show that problems with the testing process tainted the outcome.

That possibly will happen, if/when the NFL and the NFLPA agree on a testing protocol for HGH.

70 responses to “Hearing officer breaks from precedent, buys Sherman’s argument on collection irregularities

  1. Sherman or not, once the Giants win Sunday, along with losses by Cowboys, Cubs & Vikings, the NFC will be there’s.

  2. This dude is a joke and should of been suspended period he tested possitive ….this whole team is a joke !!! they cheated green bay and they hold the wr more than they were held as a baby!!!! they have only won 1 road game period!!! they got beat by the dolphins!!! i only hope we play these clowns again

  3. I get the feeling that this is a direct result of the recent bounty suspensions being overturned, Sherman was threatening to take it to court should the suspension be upheld. There was obviously irregularities with how the sample was obtained, and the last thing Goodell needs now is to be look even more powerless by having another independent arbitrator overrule his decisions. Hopefully this is the beginning of a more accountable system, that looks further into their processes before handing out suspensions based on tenuous evidence

  4. if/when the NFL and the NFLPA agree on a testing protocol for HGH.


    “If/when” being significant here. I’m not sure they’re ready to open that possible can of worms. They’re trying to help an already tainted image of the NFL. Having a load of current players fail HGH tests, and then have the media scrutinize and microscope that around the clock, might not be what they want to risk doing right now. This may not happen as a result of an agreement to test for HGH, but it certainly is a possibility. It’s definitely the worse thing that could happen when you ask the question “What’s the worst that could happen?”.

  5. I respect the outcome. If the league failed to comply with the collection procedures then discipline should not be imposed.

    However, in no way is this an exoneration of Sherman. The league didn’t try and pull a fast one on this guy like he’s trying to say. Human error, and nothing else, is what lifted his suspension.

    He keeps harping on the truth. So be it. He tested positive for a performance enhancing drug. He never denied taking the drug in his appeal. His suspension was rescinded on a technicality. That’s the truth.

    There’s a world of difference between innocence and not guilty.

  6. So, Seahawks are going to be responsible for a better PED testing procedure/appeal process and for bringing back the regular referees all in the same season.

    You’re welcome.

  7. Count Down, 3 , 2, 1… Bring On the Pete Carroll haters. Yeah, he was in the lab, and he was the one who provided the cup(s) and he was the one who didn’t seal it correctly…

    Good job by Sherman and his Legal Team to get the NFL to do the right thing.


  8. 1. Whether or not he was using this right now is irrelevant…but it is clear that the the NFL needs to seriously reconsider their collection and testing practices. Either to close the loophole or so this never happens again to an innocent player. Regardless of your opinion on this particular player/situation, you must agree with this fact.

    2. There are a ton of children being fed this drug on a daily basis all across the US.. if it’s serious enough to count as a PED/amphetamine by the NFL, then shouldn’t the discussion really be on whether or not children should be taking it?

  9. More importantly, did anyone notice the “Buick” name tag on Peyton Manning when he was interviewed by the NFL Network about making the Pro Bowl? Is there nothing that Peyton Manning won’t do for money?

  10. I’m confused. Is this the same guy who was claiming he accidentally took a sip from another teammate’s cup?

  11. The “take it like a man” comments are idiotic.

    Sherman could have easily been re-tested at the moment the testing protocol was about to be violated with the broken cup.

    Then the NFL, if they still indeed got a positive drug test, could have suspended Sherman without worry.

    The tester was an idiot and the Hearing Officer was remarkably impartial for an NFL official.

  12. db105 says:Dec 27, 2012 4:58 PM

    How can the collecting procedure be so weak?

    Many businesses, when faced with paying for an expensive process, will go with the lowest bidder for the contract, in order to save money. As the saying goes, “You get what you pay for.”

  13. Geeez. This testing company sounds like they are barely qualified to test forklift operators let alone million dollar athletes from a billion dollar industry. Put it together, Goodell!

    I’m no Sherman fan, but I cant argue with the result here.

  14. Joey49er your team was destroyed in Seattle so quit crying and the first game you beat us by 7. The Green Bay decision was the replacement refs blame the Commish not Seattle

  15. Way too much on the line here for any discrepancies in the testing process to affect the results. This should have been standardized back when the league and the NFLPA were negotiating. Pathetic.

  16. @joey49er

    If you’re still looking back on that game from over 2 months ago, you’re setting yourself up disappointment.

  17. joey49er says:
    Dec 27, 2012 4:54 PM
    This dude is a joke and should of been suspended period he tested possitive ….this whole team is a joke !!! they cheated green bay and they hold the wr more than they were held as a baby!!!! they have only won 1 road game period!!! they got beat by the dolphins!!! i only hope we play these clowns again

    40 122
    Apparently math isn’t your strong suit. If Seattle only had 1 road win, they’d have 7 losses, not 5. The team is actually 3-5 on the road. Seattle did nothing wrong against Green Bay, blame the refs not the team. And, didn’t Seattle just take the 49ers out behind the woodshed last Sunday?

  18. The Great Roger Goodell Himself Live And In Person is having a bad year at picking people to hear “appeals”. I guess He Himself will have to make it explicitly clear that the job of an appeals officer is to deny the appeal and uphold the league’s ruling, no matter how deficient and unwarranted said ruling may be.

  19. PFT: You should really ban some of these bigot’s that you have posting on this site.

    To said bigot’s
    these players get tested ALL THE TIME, and the only time he has come up positive was during a test with a tainted sample. you do the math

  20. wow joey49er
    your team has been exposed. your defense gave up 4 tds in one quarter against the patriots.vikings ran all over you guys and the giants have your number. then seattle dominated the niners in every level on sunday. now your team is injured.
    just do what niner fans do best, and stick to making death threats to players that fail at the worse time.
    we’re looking forward to playing ya again in playoffs

  21. @azarkhan says:
    Dec 27, 2012 5:14 PM
    More importantly, did anyone notice the “Buick” name tag on Peyton Manning when he was interviewed by the NFL Network about making the Pro Bowl? Is there nothing that Peyton Manning won’t do for money?

    Peyton was wearing his practice jersey. ALL teams and ALL players by contract ALL have a sponsor on their practice jersey. Each team sells that space to whatever sponsor they can for the entire season. It’s been going on for several years now. Peyton had nothing to do with that. I guess he could have changed but he was at practice.

  22. So wait, the league changes the rules to benefit the Seahawks? As a Packer fan, it seems as if I’ve heard that one before. The fix is in folks.

  23. It’s rather funny how this guy announces he will sue the NFL if he is suspended. Every player facing suspension should threaten a lawsuit now and they will cave. His story sounded bogus as ever and they still caved. Very suspect…

  24. The “process should likely be held to a high standard”? No, sir. The process should be held to an unimpeachable standard considering what is at stake. I have the same issue with this madness I have with corporate testing. Testing and invading the privacy of employees when management and executives are running corporations into the ground, but go untested is ridiculous. Start testing the owners and team executives.

  25. Anyone who thinks Sherman got away with something or didn’t deserve to be vindicated should really read doug farrar’s detailed article about the actual issues with the process and why Sherman won.

    Anyone who actually does will realize the testing process is a sham and no players deserve to have their name tarnished and their team crippled with suspensions as long as it’s allowed to continue in such a bafflingly irresponsible way.

    Sherman could be any of YOUR favorite players on YOUR favorite team, getting railroaded because of the NFL’s irresponsibility. You may not be so quick to judge if that were the case.

  26. joey49er says:
    Dec 27, 2012 4:54 PM
    This dude is a joke and should of been suspended period he tested possitive ….this whole team is a joke !!! they cheated green bay and they hold the wr more than they were held as a baby!!!! they have only won 1 road game period!!! they got beat by the dolphins!!! i only hope we play these clowns again


    This is how bad Richard Sherman scares people . He got the last laugh against the Forty- Whiners, and now they’re crying that he gets to keep pLaying. Little Joey has a sore thumb. And check the road wins. They actually have 3. Hugs,

  27. A grossly tainted collection process is exactly the defense Denver’s DJ Williams used. When you read his brief on his appeal there were mistakes made that were just as negligent or more so.
    Yet DJ’s suspension appeal was just rubber stamped denied and he served his time.
    DJ Williams cannot be happy about this.

  28. bamboozle99 says:Dec 27, 2012 5:20 PM

    I’m confused. Is this the same guy who was claiming he accidentally took a sip from another teammate’s cup?

    No the MEDIA claimed that you meat head

  29. There is no proof every player isn’t using Adderall. The facts are Sherman has categorically denied taking any banned substance. It’s also obvious the bozo doing the testing put Sherman’s pee in with Browner’s, so the result was false. And just to show what douches the nfl and Roger Goodell are, guess who got “randomly tested” today? Richard Sherman.

    I guess the NFL will have to back to its old method of keeping the Seahawks down — making Bill Leavy the ref for their playoff games.

  30. Best corner(Sherman) in the league– many of you were talkin all this nonsense relative to Pete Caroll effectiveness as a coach! Now he can get some damn respect!

  31. After the fiasco with Bounty Gate I’m sure we’ll see the league be more level handed moving forward. They can’t afford any more hits to its credibility

  32. Shady things always happen around Pete Carol ever since he started at USC. How can they be that bad away from home and that good at home. Im thinkn hes pulling a Billicheat.

  33. woooooowww seattle won 3 whole road games lol!! and their goin on the road in the playoffs wow ….. who did they beat on the road ????? just watch how the 49ers win the nfc west crown this week end….. can u say 9 probowlers. 2 nd time nfc west champs and a possible bye week …5 superbowl trophys….enough said!!!! u finally beat the 49ers at home…..

  34. The hearing officer didn’t “buy Sherman’s argument” as the headline claimed.

    He examined the procedure by which Sherman’s sample was collected and determined it did not meet the standards necessary to be valid.

    If the system were working properly, the sample would have been discarded the second the league realized that the proper procedure had not been used and never suspended Sherman in the first place.

    If the league wants their drug program to be taken seriously, than they need to take the methodology of carrying it out seriously.

  35. hawktawker says:
    Dec 27, 2012 8:24 PM

    42-13 nuff said!

    49ers 5 Lombardi trophies, seahags …oh wait.

    nuff said. if the seahag fans to treat it like their Super Bowl.

    btw, just because there was a broken cup in the collection does not mean someone spiked it with adderall. dude is a cheater that got off.

  36. Richard Sherman is the best cover corner in the league. He should be
    Pro bowl above those 2 Bears and P Peterson who I like as well. He leading NFL in passes defended has 7 picks and 3 ff. The fact we were able to dish out beatdowns unlike anyone in then last 50 years with our 2nd-4th corners sitting on the sidelines is a testament to the coaching and management finding talent for our system. Let the hate pour in from fans that are scared for their teams and praying for the Hawks to fall. We have a chance at it all this year and more for years to come. Go Hawks

  37. Pfilth and the rest of you Seahawks shut your stupid mouths!!! You guys are wacker then the wack team you cheer for! You wish you were the NINERS you suckas!! WE RUN THE WEST GET IT RIGHT SEAHAWKS YOU AMOUNT TO NOTHING WE HAVE 5 lil KIDS CATCH UP

  38. I got your back Joey these food are clowns get all happy off a couple wins but have no rings!! Cheaters the stadium is piped and there players are getting away with bad pee tests.. Seahawks fans are clowns!! You will be sad when the NINERS get further and your little run is done like the fluke it is.. Once again CLOWNS

  39. You other fans better be careful how you speak about the Seahawks cause the 49ers got a good lesson about what happens when a young team feels disrespected and plays with a chip on there shoulders! We got something for you packer fans the only reason we didn’t beat you down is our Qb was still getting use to the offence or we would have laid a 50 pack on you that night! But you guys kept taking that smack all season and when we meet again will bring you around the barn and teach you guys some respect the same way we showed the niners will show you what physicality means! Don’t think were not paying attention to the crap you’ve been saying about how we cheated you all year!!!! You will learn that this is not the same old birds but some man eating carnivorous pterodactyl ball hawking killers that will physically take your heads off like we did the niners and Vernon Davis keep talking smack! Your day will come real soon pray! Pray! You will learn to respect us ” by Hook or by Crook” And by the way we are not even remotely jealous of any other NFL team why should we be? We have the riches owner in all of pro sports “Paul Allen ” the best assembly of coaches and GM! arguably the best practice facility and stadium! The best fans in the NFL and home field advantage! And an incredibly talented young team that is only on the rise and now developing a killer instinct…… SO why the hell would we want to be any other NFL team or be jealous of???????? Seahawks all the way 2012/13 we keep shocking the world!!!! GOHAWKS 12 MAN!!!!!

  40. these sea quack fans are just plain boring.
    I can trash talk from cowboys fan. at least they have a few trophies.
    but for a sad sack franchise with a losing tradition these guys are loud.

    win a Super Bowl or two then talk. btw, this season is still in play for the niners and hawks.

  41. Wow…just wow. Win a few home games, beat up on some cellar dwellers and all of the sudden the Hawks fans think they’re the second coming of the ’72 Dolphins.
    The Seahawk’s will play the first round on the road. No playoff games will be played at home. No cupcakes, just playoff caliber teams on the road.
    Try and enjoy this run and carry yourselves with dignity, not arrogant newbies demanding respect.

  42. @beauregard ….May have been cupcake teams, but you can only play who is on your schedule…its still and NFL team…And wasn’t one of those teams the 49ers? I don’t know if you saw the score…42-13….Anyway……And its not a few home game wins, its all the home games so far this year.

    I don’t understand I read these comments of people happy about the Seahawks, and other people call them arrogant…should we be sad that the Seahawks are winning….I don’t get it. What do you expect Seahawk fans to do?…If you beat a team 42-13 you have ever right to brag and scream all you want, they whooped their ass. People need to stop taking this so seriously….oh and Go Hawks!

  43. HAHAHA 49er fans forget that from 2003-2011 the 49ers were awful. Granted they have great history..Montana, Rice, Young….we all know that. However they’ve only been good for 2 seasons. And it won’t take long for DCs to get Kapernick taken care of, because lets face it, he’s not the franchise QB, I mean cmon lets not kid ourselves here.

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