Seahawks CB Brandon Browner, who hasn’t appeared in a game since Nov. 10 (groin injury), was suspended indefinitely for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy, the league said in a statement Wednesday.
The announcement means Browner, 29, who missed the past four games to injury but was eligible and receiving pay, lost his appeal after he reportedly tested positive for a small amount of marijuana. Per league policy, an indefinite suspension mandates that the player sit out a full year before he is eligible to apply for reinstatement.
Browner is a free agent after the 2013 season, which means his career in Seattle is likely finished. Browner probably isn’t done fighting the league, an idea he reinforced late Wednesday through his Twitter account. The tweet below came from his agent shortly after the league announced the news.
As the great Revolutionary war Admiral J.P. Jones said when refusing to surrender to the British “I have not yet begun to fight” @bbrowner27
— Peter Schaffer (@peterjschaffer) December 19, 2013
Browner, from Oregon State, reportedly tested positive during his first year in the NFL with Denver in 2006, which requires violators be randomly tested more frequently as long as they are union members. He played in the Canadian Football League from 2007-10, when he apparently missed drug tests, which advanced him to the third stage of the NFL’s policy.
Independent of the substance-abuse violation, Browner was suspended for four games at the end of the 2012 season for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs, reportedly for the use of the prescription stimulant Adderall.
When word leaked from the NFL in November that Browner had another episode of substance abuse and was suspended for a year — the standard punishment for a stage-three violator — he appealed, reportedly claiming he was unaware that he was missing tests while playing in Canada.
An arbitrator hearing the appeal ruled Wednesday in the NFL’s favor, and the punishment clock started immediately. But the lack of resolution was an increasing irritant to coach Pete Carroll, who had to keep Browner on the active roster in case he won the appeal and would become available to the Seahawks once healthy.
“It has taken a long time and I’ve been a little disappointed in that,” Carroll said before he knew the suspension was denied, “but we’re handling it . . . He’s just about to get ready to where he can practice now. He’s getting close. It’s kind of iffy whether he can do it or not. I think if he was practicing today, he would be able to go, in a limited fashion.”
Asked why he indulged Browner so long, rather than put him on injured reserve in order to add a player, Carroll said, “I think in respect to the player and what he’s done and what he offers our team. We were able to do it because of the versatility of some other guys. Had he come back, who would play? It’s a big, great question and one of you would probably ask that question a week from now if he was back.”
Carroll was much more animated when talking of Byron Maxwell, who has done well replacing Browner as well as Walter Thurmond, who will return next week after a four-game suspension for substance abuse.
“Byron has done a great job,” he said. “He’s made it through. That Wally Pipp story comes to life sometimes. I’m thrilled about what Byron has done. He’s been such an impact player for us. It’s turned out very, very well for us.”