Are players not paying attention?

dave.boling@thenewstribune.comNovember 27, 2012 

Waiting for Roger Goodell’s scales of justice to tip, we’re left to speculate on the pending status of Seahawks cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner.

The top reason to think Sherman and Browner are victims of botched drug tests or some manner of misunderstanding: Surely they’re smart enough to avoid taking the same drug that cost their teammate, John Moffitt, a month’s suspension last season.

Aren’t they?

Top reason to think the appeal of their suspension to the league will be rejected: Almost everybody who gets caught cheating contends it’s the result of a botched test or a misunderstanding.

And two guys having the same false readings?

Because the appeals process is in the works, it’s expected that the two – who comprise one of the best cornerback tandems in the NFL – will still be available to the Seahawks for their game Sunday at Chicago.

Issues of privacy, due process and secrecy assured through collective-bargaining meant that no Seahawks officials were allowed to offer elaboration or clarification on reports that Sherman and Browner were facing four-game suspensions for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs.

Among unsubstantiated contentions are that the banned substance was Adderall, which is prescribed for the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. The presumption is that it would be valued by an athlete for its qualities as a stimulant.

Supposedly, the test they allegedly failed might have been taken as early as September.

For a Seahawks team that has a 6-5 record and is clinging to playoff hopes, the loss of two of its best defenders certainly bodes trouble. Even with the two physical cornerbacks in action at Miami, the Seahawks lost for the fifth time on the road this year.

As their defense suffered from acute tackling-deficit disorder, the Seahawks gave up 17 fourth-quarter points in a 24-21 loss to the Dolphins. With eight-win teams Chicago and San Francisco among those remaining on the docket, the Seahawks can ill afford to lose top-end manpower.

The Seahawks have had some suspensions before, but not two key starters at once.

In the past year, the Seahawks lost Moffitt to a suspension on a reputed Adderall rap, and then irrelevant reserve Allen Barbre was suspended for a PED violation and then cut.

Last week, when rookie safety Winston Guy was suspended on a PED charge, coach Pete Carroll said: “It always comes to us as a surprise, we can’t really comment about it, but in this day and age professional athletes need to know what they’re putting in their bodies. There’s a constant effort to keep them well-informed with all of that.”

Carroll had to be equally circumspect when questioned Monday.

Asked a more general question about the team policy on drug awareness, he said: “The league has a whole process they go through for the players’ awareness. We follow up in all areas and try to do our diligence to make sure everybody knows what’s going on and what’s to be expected. The league takes a very strong stance on how to get the messages out on rules and guidelines … and we try to follow through the best we can.”

Regardless how flimsy, the lack-of-awareness alibi might fly a bit for Guy, who is new to the team, but Sherman and Browner were well aware of the Moffitt situation.

And a suspension would at least tint the success stories they fashioned as they overcame certain challenges to get where they are.

Sherman, a fifth-round draft pick in 2011, graduated from Stanford in four years and stayed a fifth year to continue playing and work on his master’s. That takes a pretty smart cookie, certainly one who should be aware of some basic league rules.

Late Monday afternoon, Browner’s agent, Peter Schaffer, said that his client had no knowledge how he could have tested positive for any illegal substance.

But there’s apparently a great deal of attention-deficit going on in secondaries around the league, because Monday it was announced that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost their second cornerback of the season (Eric Wright, in addition to Aqib Talib, who has since been traded to New England) to a suspension for Adderall.

They used to always say that to be a great cornerback in the NFL, a player had to have a short memory.

Maybe all along they were talking about attention span.

Dave Boling: 253-597-8440 dave.boling@thenewstribune.com @DaveBoling

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