Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman doesn't generally need any incentive to be lippy and contentious on the field -- that's just the way the second-year man from Stanford does things. But it's safe to say that when Sherman takes the field against the Washington Redskins in Sunday afternoon's wild-card matchup, he'll have an extra jump in his step. Sherman beat a four-game league suspension for an alleged violation of the NFL's substance abuse policy on appeal in late December, and it would appear that at least one member of the Redskins' roster - defensive tackle Kedric Golston -- isn't too happy about the fact that Sherman's on the field at all.
Jim Corbett of USA Today Sports was recently talking to Redskins linebacker Lorenzo Alexander about whether Sherman should be able to take the field. During that conversation, Golston leaned over and gave his own opinion on the matter.
"He's a cheater," Golston told Corbett.
Alexander's response was a bit more measured.
"It is what it is. I don't know what his total case and background of it is, or about the paperwork he did. He was doing Adderall, Ritalin, the same thing that [Redskins cornerback] Cedric [Griffin] was doing, I believe. I know there's a [testing] procedure you have to do and even then, they can still hit you for it. It is what it is.''
Griffin missed the final four games of the 2012 regular season after he was hit with a four-game suspension for a similar alleged violation, and he'll be active for the playoff matchup.
"Anytime you face embarrassment in the public, it's kind of tough, but at the same time, it's how you come back," Griffin said on Jan. 2. "I'm not really worried about what people say or what the media says. It was a fault on my behalf and that's something I got to take up."
Sherman and fellow Seahawks cornerback Brandon Browner were suspended on Nov. 25, and while Browner served his four-game suspension without appeal, Sherman proclaimed his innocence from the start, and eventually won a reversal of that suspension based on irregularities in the testing process.
"We're not going to wish someone a positive drug test and a four-game suspension just to win a game,'' Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall told Corbett. "I'm happy he won it. I don't know all the details of it. If he won his appeal, he won his appeal. We obviously would have been better off it he wasn't playing, but he's out there. We have to deal with who's out there. There's nothing we can do about it."
[Infographic: NFL wild cards, inside the numbers]
In the end, whether Hall and his teammates are dealing with Sherman or not, all NFL players should be happy that Sherman beat his suspension, because the testing process was ridiculously inefficient and flawed. As Yahoo! Sports learned on Dec. 27 after speaking with Maurice Suh, Sherman's attorney, and reading the appeal decision of arbitrator Robert E. Wallace, Jr., it was clear that Sherman should not have been suspended at all until and unless another test took place.
From our report:
Sherman, who testified on his own behalf with Suh present, said that on Sept. 17, Mark Cook, the urine sample collector, met Sherman at the Seahawks' facility for the test. Sherman made himself available on his day off -- the Monday after Seattle's win over the Dallas Cowboys -- to take the test. Sherman made Cook aware that the first sample cup was leaking, and both Sherman and Cook testified that Cook transferred the sample from the leaking cup to a new one. Sherman says that Cook left his side during the actual testing process; Cook said that he did not.
Sherman raised the issue that there were several other cups in the area, and that some had been used. Also, when Sherman was asked to sign the agreement via electronic device, the consent language was not visible, and Sherman said that he never would have signed it given the irregularities. Cook disputed this. In addition, on the Athletes Control & Custody form, the pH levels of the sample were inconsistent with what was received by the testing lab.
Most importantly, Cook did not tell his company at the time that there had been an irregularity in the testing process per testimony; he did not tell anyone until his supervisor asked him in October. And since the NFL's drug policy states that a confirmation test must be done by a different technician after any positive test, and Cook did both tests, this was a further violation of the process.
As the NFL proved in the BountyGate scandal, Commissioner Roger Goodell has no issue with punishing -- and making those punishments public -- without the benefit of comprehensive evidence. Without an appeal ruling that exposed the flaws in the league's current drug testing system, there may be more players suspended without cause.
Pregame smack talk is one thing, but Golston -- and all other NFL players -- should consider the Sherman decision to be ideal for their own professional futures.
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