RENTON — Seattle Seahawks cornerback Brandon Browner has been suspended indefinitely for a violation of the NFL’s substance-abuse policy, the league announced Wednesday.
His suspension started immediately.
Browner released a statement through Twitter:
“I want to thank the Seahawks organization for the incredible opportunity they gave me when they took a chance on a player who was out of the NFL and playing in the CFL for 4 years. I also want to thank all of my teammates, coaches, trainers, staff and the 12’s for their support, respect, and friendship and for helping me grow into the player, father, and person I am today.
“I have been treated with nothing but first class by everyone associated with the Seattle Seahawks and for that I am forever grateful. Although I disagree with the circumstances surrounding my suspension,
I accept responsibility for all of my actions and I apologize for any that causes any unflattering reflections of my family and the Seahawks. I believe in my innocence and will continue to fight with all legal resources available to me to. Go Hawks!!!”
This is Browner’s third career suspension and second for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy.
His first violation of the league’s substance-abuse policy came in the 2005-06 season while a rookie with the Denver Broncos.
Last season, Browner was suspended four games for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy. The league has separate substance-abuse and performance-enhancing drug policies.
Browner had argued that he was wrongfully moved from Stage 1 to Stage 3 by the NFL while he was out of the league and in the Canadian Football League.
His suspension is indefinite because he was moved into Stage 3 of the league’s punishment system for substance-abuse violations, then committed a violation.
Players who commit a violation in Stage 3 “will be banished from the NFL for a minimum period of one calendar year,” according to league bylaws.
Browner will remain in Stage 3 the rest of his career. His return to the league will be solely up to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
As an unrestricted free agent after this season, he is likely to be viewed with a skeptical eye by teams.
He also is likely to sue the league. Browner’s agent, Peter Schaffer, took to Twitter to quote a revolutionary war general and say, “I have not yet begun to fight.”
Browner injured his groin against Atlanta on Nov. 10 and had not played since. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll had called the injury a “significant tear” and didn’t provide a timetable for Browner’s return.
Shortly after, word of Browner’s suspension and appeal leaked out. The NFL often rules on suspension appeals within days. Browner waited almost three weeks for a conclusion.
“It has taken a long time,” Carroll said Wednesday before the announcement. “We’re a little disappointed in that.”
Despite Browner’s past errors and injury status, the Seahawks chose to not put the free-agent-to-be on injured reserve. That move would have allowed them to have a clear path forward as opposed to waiting for the appeal decision and to see if Browner healed. Carroll said they stuck with Browner, keeping him on the 53-man roster and keeping him paid, because they “respect the player and what he’s done and what he offers our team.”
The emergence of cornerbacks Byron Maxwell and Jeremy Lane in the place of Browner and suspended Walter Thurmond, who returns next week, had a dual influence on Browner’s situation.
It left the Seahawks in capable hands, allowing them to wait longer for an answer. It also shows that they can contend without Browner.
“We were able to do it because of the versatility of some other guys,” Carroll said. “Had he come back, who would play? Byron has done a great job. He’s just made it through, and he’s done a great job of playing.
“ I’m thrilled about what Byron has done. He’s been such an impact player for us, and we had the opportunity to wait it out and see what was going on. This injury thing has kind of fell into the middle of it all. It’s turned out very, very well for us. We’ve been very fortunate with the way it’s turned out so far.”
The Seahawks signed Browner in 2011. He was named to the Pro Bowl that year and was part of Seattle’s so-called “Legion of Boom” secondary.
Wide receiver Percy Harvin did not practice again Wednesday. Harvin, who underwent hip surgery Aug. 1, has played once this season, when he was on the field for 19 snaps Nov. 17 against his former team, the Minnesota Vikings. ... Safety Kam Chancellor (quadriceps) and tight end Zach Miller (ribs) did not practice.