Brandown Browner plans to sue the NFL next week


After the NFL indefinitely suspended Seahawks cornerback Brandon Browner, his agent/lawyer Peter Schaffer said that he “will sue the living daylights out of the league.”

Daylight is expected to arrive soon.

Schaffer tells PFT that he plans to file next week a lawsuit challenging the decision to suspend Browner.  The complaint will be accompanied by a motion for preliminary injunction, asking the court to allow Browner to become a free agent on March 11, which would have happened but for the suspension.  Schaffer also will ask that Browner remain eligible to practice and play until the lawsuit is resolved.

Cases attacking the arbitration process mandated by the NFL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement typically fail due to a high standard aimed at respecting such outcomes.  Browner brings to the table a unique twist.  Although his latest violation of the substance-abuse policy happened while he was an employee of the NFL and a member of the NFL Players Association, Schaffer will argue that the violations placing Browner one strike away from an indefinite suspension lasting at least one year happened while he wasn’t employed by any NFL team, and while he wasn’t a member of the NFLPA.

Browner will contend that the NFL continued to subject him to periodic drug testing after he was cut by the Denver Broncos in 2006.  Browner also will contend that the NFL notified him of those tests at an address where he no longer resided, and that the NFLPA never informed him of the mounting penalties and suspensions arising from his failure to submit to testing during the five years after he was cut by the Broncos and returned to the NFL with the Seattle Seahawks.

As PFT has previously reported, Browner actually had been placed on indefinite suspension before he returned to the NFL in 2011, but he somehow slipped through the cracks when he signed in Seattle.  The league eventually placed him in Stage 3 in lieu of retroactively ejecting him from the league.

The lawsuit will be accompanied by an administrative complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission claiming that the NFL’s overall approach to players who chronically test positive for marijuana violates the Americans with Disabilities Act.  Browner is expected to argue that the NFL at a minimum views players who repeatedly violate the policy as being addicted to marijuana, and that the league’s handling of those players violates the duty to provide a reasonable accommodation.

Here’s a potential accommodation the NFL may want to consider:  Quit worrying about what guys do on their own time unless and until they get arrested for something.  When it comes to marijuana, that wouldn’t happen at all in Colorado or Washington.

Speaking of Colorado, which has legalized marijuana use for recreational purposes, that’s where the lawsuit will be filed.  And that’s not a bad choice of venue given the local attitudes toward a substance that the NFL still refuses to allow its players to use, for any reason.

Apart from seeking a preliminary injunction allowing Browner to return to the NFL pending the outcome of the case, the lawsuit will seek all available financial damages arising from the league’s decision to suspend Browner for things that happened while he wasn’t an employee of the NFL or a member of the NFLPA.

“I’m not afraid to fight City Hall,” Schaffer told PFT by phone on Wednesday.  “I’ve bent over backward to find a way to work something out with the league to make everyone comfortable.”

The NFL had no comment on the situation.

“I don’t understand how the league can ruin someone’s career over this fact pattern,” Schaffer said.  “I’ll represent Brandon zealously to make sure his career isn’t ruined.”

Schaffer says he isn’t troubled by the possibility that taking up this specific fight will have separate consequences for Browner, or for his lawyer.

“My job is to protect my player,” Schaffer said.  “You can use the word ‘blackball’ for Brandon.  I could get blackballed, too.  But I don’t care.  I’d do it every day of the week.”

On one specific day next week, Schaffer will launch a process that could force the NFL to ultimately take a long look at how it administers the substance-abuse program — specifically as it relates to marijuana.

76 responses to “Brandown Browner plans to sue the NFL next week

  1. Just another spoiled individual who doesn’t get it. Rules and policy are for everyone to follow for the general well being of society!

  2. As opposed to a normal lawsuit that shoots for something less than “living daylights”; this changes everything. So does this mean Timothy Dalton is going to do the Opening and Closing?

  3. Smoking a joint was a dumb move by Browner, but that pales to the idiocy of the league in this matter. Expecting someone to take time away from his new employer to submit to drug testing-after having his ties to the league cut-is just asinine. At least the media is getting it right now and reporting it as pot and not PEDs.

  4. Good. I hope he wins. To suspend a guy for not coming to submit to urinalysis while no longer being an employed at that job and then punishing the person because they didn’t show up is ridiculous. I hope he wins the suit.

  5. Even IF Browner becomes a FA and the NFL let’s him go about his business (which I doubt will happen) who is going to want him? He cannot go a full season without some sort of infraction and is still 1 strike from an indefinite suspension. For table scraps I’d sign him but that’s about it. Not like he’s in line for some large lucrative contract and the NFL derailed that.

  6. And to say the NFL shouldn’t care about what players do on their free time is bullish. The NFL is a corporation. Whether or not they are on their free time, everything every NFL player does reflects upon the league, whether it be good or bad. Just because marijuana is legal in 2 of 50 states doesn’t mean the NFL should just let it slide. It’s not a positive image for the league, nor the player.

  7. There are so many oddities here….like the fact the league apparently thinks it has the power to test people who are not under contract (which is tantamount to McDonald’s giving me a drug test because I worked there for six months when I was 17), and the further fact that the league violated its own rules when Browner’s contract with Seattle was approved without him being officially reinstated.

  8. Lets say you worked at BK as and executive. They didn’t extend your work contract. So you went to work for McD’s. Treats later you got an offer from BK. So you went back. He failed a ped test in 2012, and was on phase 2 probation. BK cannot put you in phase 3 probation, because you failed to take a test while he worked McD’s. He wasn’t under their contact. He worked for another employer.
    He is filling the case in California people. They cost him a contract. He’ll win easily.

  9. When it is time to stop toking? What players do with their time and activities is their business as long as it is not in the confines with the NFL regs. If he was unemployed and a team contacted him for a tryout or signed him he should have been cleaned upon urine test. The players make too much money to destroy their careers over such things as drugs…I always thought after a certain age, you should be mature and leave drugs alone.

  10. I don’t understand why the NFL cares so much about a guy smoking weed…especially a Seattle player can legally due so because of the state law.

  11. No way… Roger and his buddies working for their “non profit” organization created a set of rules that would never be plausible in a real work environment?

    I guess according to Roger even if the NFL cuts you and your forced to work elsewhere, your still under the control of the NFL…. You know like every other employer you don’t work for

  12. The long-arm of the NFL’s drug policy is too overbearing on players who have walked away from the league and played elsewhere. When you wish to make a move back to the league, then you should be required to test. I agree, there is some grey area whether players still wish to go back to the NFL even though they are playing elsewhere.

    Brandon Browner was living on his friends’ couches (with no cell phone) shortly after his time at Oregon State and was not reachable by the NFL for the purposes of drug testing. Should he be punished for that? No.

  13. Marijuana tax revenue far exceeded what Colorado politicians were thinking. Full country legalization is envitable now, probably by the next Presidential election.

  14. So pot is OK in 2 states. The NFL bans it…… does make sense, unless it was the other way around if there were only 2 states that ban it.

    So, just a thought to Browner: QUIT SMOKING WEED DUDE!!!!!

    If you value your career that much, can’t you stay off the hooch?

  15. There’s also that unmentioned matter that the league leaked confidential information to their own TV network that Browner failed a PED test, which in reality did not occur: this is the legal definition of slander.

    Then the league admitted that it wasn’t PEDs, and leaked confidential information to their own TV network that Browner failed a substance-abuse test.

    The league could have practiced true confidentiality with Browner and quietly resolved this issue months ago and avoid a black eye. But instead, it looks like they got advice from a really bad lawyer…

  16. Imagine if Browner played for the Seahawks down the stretch.. the thought of that secondary being better then it was during the SB is just scary.. I hope my bucs go after some big athletic DB’s in the draft

  17. Let him back him. Dumb@ss will fail another test before the season is over anyway. I’ve got nothing against smoking weed, but rules are rules. Follow them or suffer the consequences if you get caught.

  18. As a hawks fan I am thoroughly disappointed in Browner. Face it dude you screwed up now you have to pay the piper. You have made an embarrassment of yourself and the team. You knew you weren’t supposed to be getting high after the first time you were caught…. You are a black mark that I wish would just go away.

    The Hawks will win the superbowl again next year and we will do it without you.

  19. I just got a call from my former employer of 5 years ago and they told me that I’m on serious probation because I have missed the last 5 annual urine tests.

    I’m so ashamed! I hope my current employer doesn’t find out.

  20. Please commenters, PLEASE research this before you post. This was due to not showing up for a drug test FOUR YEARS AGO when coming from the CFL to the NFL.

  21. Since when the hell was smoking weed considered performance enhancing drugs?.. Some of you commenting are idiots and also try to actually understand the situation before ranting

  22. Browner had turned down an offer from the Vikings because they stink. Zero Lombardi wins. They once were good. Before the nfl came. They haven’t been relevant since before the Vietnam war.
    Peterson wants out, Ponder is their starting qb, 6-10 is their goal.
    #our case and trophy is new

  23. Why are people comparing the NFL to McDonald’s, Burger King or any other business?
    It’s not the same. You don’t retire from fast food where you file papers and make official announcements. Remember the whole Farve saga where it finally ended (for real), but it still wasn’t over because he wouldn’t send in the paperwork?
    That is why they can test the dude after he was cut by Denver and not playing for another team. He had not left football. He just couldn’t hook on with a team. He’s not the only one in this situation. He’s not the only one tested. I’m sure it’s well established that the testing continues if you are cut and unsigned if you ever want to play in the NFL again. This “I moved and therefore I didn’t know” claim is a crock.

    Sure challenge the rule or the agreement and point to the NFL screwing up by approving the contract, but its BS for him to claim he didn’t know he needed to submit to tests and keep his address up to date with the league.

  24. Browner is arguing that he can commit bloody murder while he is out of the league and not expect to be disciplined. Testing while he is outside the league is legitimate and part of the agreement. It would not have affected him if he stayed in Canada and played football there.

  25. Plenty of people will burn this guy at the stake because he smoked herb and is in trouble because of it.

    But marijuana is not the problem here. The problem is the shady business tactics of the National Football League. If they followed their own rules then this case would not be an issue. Browner broke the rules that he agreed to follow. The NFL broke the rules they agreed to follow. The stated punishment for Browners actual offense should be a suspension. But the NFL broke the rules and ruined his career as a result. Browner’s case is strong. He will come out as winner in this.

  26. Hmmm. why not apply the CDL rules to the league? DUI… .04, whether driving a truck or your personal vehicle, on or off job, bye bye CDL (even if not employed at the time). Pot in your truck, bye bye CDL. Flunk a piss test once, bye bye CDL. To all you who dispute this, go down and apply with a dui or pot conviction on your record in the last 5 years and see if you can get one. Yes, even in Colorado.

  27. It doesn’t matter about his latest test. He “violated” NFL policy… WHEN HE WAS NOT EVEN IN THE LEAGUE! NFL is wrong on this one. If a player is not under contract, they are not subject to the rules of the league, or the NFLPA.


  28. Most of you posters are idiots. The issue is not that he failed a drug test – can you get that through your idiot heads? The issue is that he failed to submit a drug test for the NFL when he WASN’T EVEN IN THE LEAGUE!!!

    Why should Browner have to submit to a drug test for the NFL when he’s not even working in the NFL?

    Can you guys understand that? Please let me know if you need me to draw this in crayon for you idiots.

  29. good. dude got screwed over. hope he gets an 8 figure payout.

    should have been playing in the superbowl. if he had, then the broncos would not have completed a single pass in that game.

  30. He has to go to arbitration. If he would have been suspended indefinitely BEFORE being allowed back in he would likely have a better case. He had no problem with the looming suspension or his characterization until he was dumb enough to get caught again.

    The complaint to the EOC is ridiculous. The NFL did provide avenues to address his issue but he chose to ignore everything and smoke weed instead. Now he claims it was not his fault because he was (is) addicted. They should laugh at him while denying his request.

  31. He should sue them for allowing the refs to give the Seahawks against the Packers last year.

  32. Bookwormy NFL yes-men lawyers will get their rear ends kicked, yet again! Good! Only a matter of time before the N-word Flag League folds under the weight of its own greed and stupidity.

  33. Most seahawk players are dopers, but this is bs. The man wasn’t even employed by the NFL. What a crock.

  34. The NFL should just send out testing notices to all high school and college players. They may be in the league and then the NFL can use their failure to appear at a test as evidence they aren’t compliant with the league rules thereby diminishing their value so teams can pay them less.

  35. Love the game, players, and coaches. Don’t love the NFL at all and I hope Browner wins.

  36. Here’s an idea:


    This would be a non-issue if Browner never did anything.

    It IS the NFL’s business what players do in their personal lives if it violates the law or the rules of the NFL. Is the NFL supposed to turn a blind eye when a player commits murder when he’s in the off season?

    So instead of taking responsibility for his own actions, this player is going to blame everyone else for it and sue. That’s the American way now I suppose.

    It also doesn’t matter if pot is legal in Colorado and some other states. It is still on the list of banned substances for the NFL and it isn’t like that is a secret nobody knows about.

  37. According to this article, steroids are perfectly fine if someone does them on their own time. You know, since they aren’t arrested by having them.

  38. I love all these simpleton “Maybe he should stop abusing drugs!” comments. Maybe… as a football player who constantly subjects his body to brutal and repeated collisions and pain would rather occasionally smoke marijuana than wind up hooked on legal heroin (essentially any of the ‘approved’ pain management in the league).

  39. YOU USED ILLEGAL DRUG MORON. It shouldn’t mattet if it was first second or third time you got caught. You did them and essentially got fired. I get caught once and I’m fired and he got caught twice already.

    I have no sympathy for him and hope he ends up losing and having to pay the nnfl’s attorney fees too

  40. This case is not about drug use. It is about the escalation of NFL human resource policies while he was not employed by the NFL and how they used the results of that escalation to deny Browner the opportunity to play in the Super Bowl. He waited until now to exhaust due diligence and give the Commissioner a chance to reverse their decisions prior to being on the hook for damages.

  41. Browner has every right to sue them,the NFL rules and policies are twisted.He wasn’t even in NFL at the time.If the NFL would get the heads out of their rear ends they might notice how retarded they look enforcing a rule like this.GOOD LUCK TO YOU BROWNER!!!!!

  42. Nobody is saying Marijuana is a PED.

    Marijuana IS on the list of banned substances in the NFL though and the rules state that if you test positive for it you will be penalized. Pretty cut and dry. Marijuana is illegal in most states, it is also illegal on a federal level.

  43. Okay, maybe Browner shouldn’t play football then if that is his reason for smoking Marijuana?

    Football is a choice. Drugs are a choice. Nobody forcing him to do one or the other.

  44. Wait, someone with this money doesn’t have someone set up a forwarding address when he moves?

    Give me a break. In any other Job, if Your employer says don’t smoke weed, and you know you’re being tested, you stop hitting the dope

  45. So let me see if I can get this straight.

    Browner is suspended indefinitely for substance abuse for 5 years and somehow managed to get through and signed to a team. Seems to me he’s lucky to be back in the NFL to begin with.

    He gets suspended again which cuts out his time clock on his pending free agency…and wants to sue the league for not allowing him to become a free agent…because he was suspended for using drugs again…and cost himself playing time.

    He claims that the NFL was sending his documentation to an old address. Did he ever give them the proper one? Did he ever let them know he moved?

  46. Im not a weed smoker and don’t care anything about it, but I think the guy has a case.
    If the violation pertains to something that happened while he was not an employee of an NFL team, how can he be penalized for it?
    If he wasn’t an employee, he wasn’t subject to the NFL’s rules or testing protocols. Whatever he was or wasn’t doing was none of their business.

    If they send me a test notice, I’ll ignore it just like he did.

    Apparently they got their feelings hurt when he blew them off. Decided to extract a pound of flesh when they got the opportunity.

    Goodell’s regime is starting to remind me of the old Soviet Union of the ’70’s.

  47. Actually there are comments that claims this is just another use of PED. You are correct that this is not.

    Browner is not challenging that it is banned and shouldn’t be or that he should not be fairly subjected to the consequences.

    He is saying that during the time he was not an employee, they did not have the right to treat him as if he was and continue to escalate as if he was failing additional steps for not showing up for additional tests.

  48. Good. I hope wins and changes a couple policies in the process.

    He got his playoff check and will get his SB ring. Life isn’t exactly terrible for Brandon. I wish him well.

    In Washington(Seattle area) there are several options to have pot delivered to your house like a pizza. Proff you are 21 is all that is required. They come toy YOU.

    Just a bit different than say….Florida or Texas or wherever you are shaking your head about how crazy we are here in Washington.

    192 million in state tax revenue expected the first year. Your state would be crazy not to fall in line.

  49. I hope Goodell has to write him a $44 million dollar check out of his own personal bank account.

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