Browner was under suspension when he signed with Seattle

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There’s yet another strange wrinkle to one of the strangest NFL stories of the year.

Per a league source, when Seahawks cornerback Brandon Browner signed with the team in 2011, he had been suspended indefinitely and not reinstated by the NFL.

The suspension, triggered by a failure to show up for a drug test after being sent to Stage Three of the program while unemployed by the NFL, remained in effect as of 2011.  Under the substance-abuse policy, a violation while Browner was in Stage Three (also due to failing to show up for drug tests while unemployed) resulted in a banishment with the ability to reapply after one calendar year.

In this specific case, Browner somehow slipped through the NFL’s cracks, joining the Seahawks despite being on suspended status.  When the NFL realized its error, the league decided to park Browner in Stage Three and move ahead.

Browner currently faces a suspension of one year, at a minimum, due to a violation of the substance-abuse policy while in Stage Three.  Once a player advances to Stage Three, he remains there for the rest of his career.

In a hearing completed last week, Browner argued that he should not be responsible for drug tests the NFL attempted to conduct while he was not employed by an NFL team.  Litigation remains possible, if his appeal fails.

38 responses to “Browner was under suspension when he signed with Seattle

  1. Somehow slipped through the cracks?

    The NFL is full of cracks. There is stuff falling through the cracks every week and in almost ever game, not to mention off the field stuff that is consistently falling through the cracks.

    You either have a full clean slab of intact pavement, or you have cracks and the potential for stuff to get into the cracks. Eliminate the cracks and then you don’t have that problem.

    Just fire the cracked heads that created and/or tolerated these irresponsible cracks left unimproved. But fine them first.

  2. How do you “slip through the cracks” for two years? No matter what happens, the NFL looks pretty stupid here.

  3. The NFL can’t keep track of it’s players histories?
    What are there, approx 2500 players or so? Maybe they should upgrade their personnel files using Microsoft Office or something instead of using paper in file cabinets.

  4. Just ridiculous. And after all this, the league chooses to play their cards and stir the pot on a guy that was out any way on injury. Well done.

  5. Browner is going to come out on top of this because its a mess. I don’t even know how any company lets something like this happen and then leaks false information about his suspension.

    He is a free agent next year but I think he may become even wealthier taking NFL to court.

  6. After two years the NFL suddenly ‘discovers’ Browner had issues and conveniently didn’t let the Seahawk’s know when they signed him? Isn’t that special? Any more surprises from the No Fun League?

    Methinks the bungling fools at NFL have much bigger issues they need to address than Browner.

  7. Browner is right. If you’re unemployed, why should he still have to comply with the drug tests?

  8. joetoronto says:
    Dec 1, 2013 7:56 PM
    Pete the cheat strikes again.



    Yeah, cause I’m sure Pete Carroll is the guy who sold the pot to Browner and gave Reggie Bush $50 grand at USC. I bet there’s video.

  9. How are the Seahawks to know he was suspended for drugs when they signed him if the league does not inform them? The league approved his contract and now the Hawks will be punished at the worst possible time. This is a mess and Seattle should sue along with Browner. No wonder no one is talking on the record.

  10. I’d like to know how he got into the NFL’s substance system in the first place.
    Did he fail a drug test while he was in Denver’s rookie camp or did he just miss a test after he was cut?

    If he’s in ‘stage 3’ without failing a test, then this whole thing is just crap.

    But we all know that it comes down to the language in the contract between the players and owner’s when Brandon was a rookie. Labor contracts trump everything in the legal world. If the NFLPA agreed to testing under any conditions and without exception, Brandon is gone.

    Civil case against Silver? maybe, except they will claim to be ‘independent’ and not tied to the commish.


  11. Yeah, I don’t think this NFL thing will last. Sure they have record viewership (their draft outdraws other sports’ post season numbers), billions of dollars each year in tv rights (ESPN pays in the neighborhood of 1.7 billion dollars for MNF), sponsorships from hundreds of companies, and it’s all only getting bigger and bigger. Yeah, they are doing an awful job.

  12. Good job NFL. They will make sure to fine guys for hitting a qb too high or too low, or not wearing the right socks. But they can’t be bothered to enforce their own drug policy, however bad it might be? Browner probably figured it would take them two more years to suspend him.

  13. Sounds like the NFL made the more bone headed moves here than browner who’s offense was smoking weed. How many people screwed up at their job, while all browner did was smoke a joint possibly in the privacy of his own home.

  14. joetoronto says:
    Dec 1, 2013 7:56 PM
    Pete the cheat strikes again.

    Pete is the cheat? come up with some new material dude. This is a league issue/screw-up. But its nice to read that so many years later somebody still thinks “pete the cheat” is funny or original.

  15. Kylexitron, in addition pot is legal in Washington St.
    Previously, the NFL punished smoking marijuana because it was not legal.
    Still trying to wrap my head around how they can punish a player for something done on his own time which is otherwise legal.

  16. Sounds like the NFL is pulling an MLB and releasing all the bad info they have on Browner in an effort to turn public opinion because they know that they really are in the wrong from a fan perspective. Whether or not its in the CBA is irrelevant to most viewers. All they’ll hear is that the NFL tried to discipline someone who was out of the league for FIVE YEARS, and ‘missed’ that he was suspended when he re-entered the league. This wasn’t a guy that was simply unemployed for a few weeks after being cut in training camp and signed someplace else. He didn’t skip a test while actively looking for NFL work exclusively. He was out for FIVE YEARS playing in Canada. Give it up, Rog.

  17. Whether the substance used was legal or not or whether it shouldn’t be banned by the NFL isn’t the deal here — if Browner is under the suspension policy already, he should be smart and careful enough not to violate it yet again. He deserves everything he gets.

  18. The purpose of the substance abuse testing is to help players struggling with illegal drug abuse get clean and stay out of jail, set a good example, and not embarrass the league. Within the spirit of the rule, they should acknowledge post employment testing requirement is not relevant, rescind all prior actions, and place him in Stage 1 with no suspension. It’s the only thing that will make the league appear to have any common sense at all. I’m not holding my breath.

  19. purpleguy,
    The proverbial cat has been let out of the bag here.
    Let’s not imagine it differently, because of this case, a whole lot of things are going to change.
    The NFL got itself into this mess, they are going to need to update a lot of things before they can get it back under control.
    Why is alcohol allowed but marijuana not?
    Previously the reasoning was that one was legal and the other not.
    NFL no longer has that available (at least in Washington and Colorado).
    What do they do? Allow players to smoke pot in those states but not in others?
    Or do they try to infringe on their private rights as individuals in what they can do on their own time?
    I think it is fair to say that these issues will be brought forward and are relevant to the subject at hand.
    At the core of any labor agreement is the basic foundation that the rules will apply the same to all employees.

  20. Does anyone on this comment board even care about the facts or just want to make up their own. Browner had never failed a test under the league’s substance abuse policy. Furthermore, after he was cut by the broncos he wasn’t unemployed he was playing in the CFL. I don’t care how the CBA reads, you can’t make someone that works for a different company adhere to the rules in your company. Btw, there’s a difference between the substance abuse policy & the PED policy. Had he failed another ped test it would’ve only been 8 games. The reason he’s in stage 3 is because while he played in Canada he didn’t provide a sample to the NFL which is regarded by the NFL as a failed test.

  21. Yeah seadawgs72, makes no sense whatsoever.
    I am guessing the NFL will need to make a bunch of changes in testing procedures (again) and Browner will be out for the rest of the regular season.
    Too many mistakes by the NFL for them to punish him for one year.
    The least of which is the libel/slander by “leaking” the results of the test.
    I don’t expect Browner to be back next season, even before the reported failed test.
    I believe he would have been a victim of the salary cap.

  22. Big thing here is that hey still thought an unemployed player needed to continue to get tested by the league. Like any employer would ever do that.

  23. If you type Pete the Cheat, Cheathawks, or Cheat Pete, you are a loser with no friends or sense of humor. You probably also talk about the weather when in an elevator with a stranger. And every Wednesday, I bet you say “Humpday” and every Friday “It’s Friday – time for the weekend”.

    You are lame and nobody likes you.

  24. Two big questions: 1. Did Browner get notice that he was put into Stage 3 of the substance abuse policy? 2. Should someone be put into the next stage of the policy when they are not part of the League or noticed that such an occurrence may happen if they fail to show up for testing while not employed?

    This is crazy………

  25. dukeearl, your dumb. Just because he failed a marijuana test in a state that has just recently legalized marijuana, doesn’t mean he didn’t break the rules. The NFL has been clear and is clear about the fact they follow federal laws since the teams are spread out over the country. State laws change alot between states and it would be almost impossible to keep up with each individual state laws especially regarding drugs. Then the questions would arise, which state was the use in, in which state was the purchase in, in which state was the failed drug test in. That’s why is easier to just follow one set of guidelines that encompass the while league and that’s federal law. Where marijuana is very much still ILLEGAL. And all those people that think he shouldn’t have to drug test while he was employed by the CFL have obviously never been in a union. Yes he had another employer but was still part of the NFLPA. If he didn’t want to test for the NFL then he should have left the NFLPA and he would have lost all of the benefits of being part of the union. One of which would be his current employment with the Seahawks. Hate to say this but you can’t have your cake and eat it too.

  26. dukearl, the NFL follows federal laws, they have been clear about that and it’s what’s agreed upon, never mind it’s the only way that makes any sense. And just because pot is legal in Colorado and Washington, it wasn’t when he failed the test so your argument made it, well, it didn’t make it. Nice try, try blaming the man for something else next time.

  27. Brandon wasn’t unemployed, he was winning Gray Cups and being an all star in Canada!

    Meanwhile some desk flunky for the NFL was sending his notifications of these tests he missed to an ex-girlfriend.

    Since when are CFL players subject to NFL pee tests?

  28. NFL doesn’t allow Marijuana because it is still illegal at the federal level.

    But it is legal in Washington state. And the Attorney General of the United States of America has stated that they will let the states laws govern in pot “crimes”… Meaning the government is NOT going to pursue criminal cases against folks that smoke pot procured in legal fashion in states where it is legal.

    Meanwhile, the NFL (as a private business) can enforce its rules. They players union agreed to follow the rules and the players are part of that union. So, Browner is at fault for toking up. But, he should not be in Stage 3. I can’t imagine why the NFLPA would agree to let players who are no longer players be tested. And the fact that the NFL was negligent in their responsibility to do due diligence overseeing the Browner contract when he reentered the league is a major strike against the NFL. Browners won’t miss one year. But he will be dinged for the pot use (probably 4 games).

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