Brandon Browner loves his former Seattle Seahawks teammates, but it’s a tough love.
Browner has been uniformly complimentary about the Seahawks, and especially the “Legion of Boom” secondary, since his New England Patriots clinched their spot against Seattle in Super Bowl 49.
However, before the Patriots traveled to Arizona, he encouraged his offensive teammates to try to hit Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman on his injured elbow and safety Earl Thomas on his injured shoulder.
The comment drew mixed reaction from the Seahawks and in the media. But when given a chance to clarify things this week at Super Bowl Media Day, Browner reworded his message without retracting it.
“Those are my brothers, at the end of the day there’s no hard feelings,” he said. “That’s like in any game: You have a guy that messes his ankle up, and you’re going to tackle and make sure you land on his ankle. If a guy messes his shoulder up, then you tackle him and land on his shoulder. That’s just a part of the game. You guys know how close I am to those boys, and at the time that felt like the right thing to say.”
Actually, it didn’t sound quite right to Sherman.
“It’s not OK in this league for anybody to intentionally hurt anybody,” he said. “I think he was just caught up in the moment. He didn’t mean any malice by it. It’s one of those things. We know him as a person, and sometimes he exaggerates a little bit. … We didn’t take it offensively.”
Browner and the Seahawks have plenty of reason for the mutual appreciation, as each benefited from their three seasons together.
After playing at Oregon State, Browner didn’t stick at Green Bay, and he was playing in the Canadian Football League when the Seahawks signed him in 2011.
At 6 feet 4 inches and around 220 pounds, he fit right in with the original “Legion of Boom.” However, his playing time decreased from 16 games to 12 in 2012 and finally to eight in 2013, when he was suspended for violation of NFL drug rules. That suspension kept him out of Seattle’s Super Bowl victory over Denver.
In March, he signed with New England as an unrestricted free agent.
“Brandon was really one of the core guys for us,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. “We loved what he did for our team as he contributed to kind of the mindset and growth of the group. … Those tough decisions occur every year. But, we wish him the very best. And he’s a great competitor, and he’s going to battle just as we’re going to battle, and it’ll be really fun to be on the field with him.”
After serving the final four games of his suspension at the start of this season, Browner quickly claimed a starting spot in the Patriots’ secondary.
“I wouldn’t say that I miss (being part of the “Legion of Boom”), but those guys mean something to me,” Browner said. “I’m happy to be playing with the likes of Darrelle Revis and (safety) Devin McCourty – it’s like I didn’t miss a step. It’s not like I went and played for a team that didn’t have solid DBs. It is fun.”
The feeling from his new teammates sounds mutual.
“I think just how he approaches the game helps us out on defense,” Revis said. “He has a lot of mental toughness. He definitely does. As a defensive player and playing on defense, you want that physicality type of player and he brings that at the corner position. There’s not a lot of guys who are very tough and play the corner position very physical, so for him to bring that, it helps our defense a lot.”