Seattle Seahawks cornerback Brandon Browner was ready for a long legal battle against the NFL to lift his indefinite drug suspension.
Fortunately, for Browner, his fight to play in 2014 ended on Tuesday.
Browner announced the NFL has lifted his suspension, and that will allow him to become a free agent on March 11. It is unclear if Browner won an appeal or cut a deal with the NFL.
The NFL and NFLPA issued a joint statment on the matter:
The NFL and NFL Players Association have agreed to conditionally reinstate Brandon Browner from his indefinite suspension under the Policy and Program on Substances of Abuse. Browner was suspended without pay for the Seattle Seahawks’ final five games of the 2013 season, including the playoffs. His contract with the Seahawks expires at the end of the 2013 League Year on March 11. He will be eligible to sign with a club and participate in offseason and preseason activities. Should he comply with the terms of the Substance Abuse Policy and Program, he will be fully reinstated after serving a four-game suspension without pay at the start of the 2014 regular season and forfeiting an additional four weeks of pay.
Here is what Browner expressed on his Twitter account:
“I received wonderful news today. The NFL has reinstated me, and I now have the opportunity to prove to the fans and my teammates how important this sport is to me. I realize now more than ever that being part of the NFL is not a right, but a privilege. I am grateful that Commissioner Goodell and my agent were able to resolve this issue in a positive, productive manner so I can continue my career, provide for my family, and help my team win a Super Bowl. Thank you to all who have gone out of their way to show their support. I will live up to your expectations of me.”
Browner was in Stage 3 of the NFL’s drug-testing program when he was suspended in December. He reportedly intended to sue the league claiming he was incorrectly placed in the most stringent portion of the program because of the missed tests he incurred during five years in the Canadian Football League. Peter Schaffer, Browner’s agent, believed his client should not have been held accountable for violating league rules when he was not employed by an NFL team, or a member of the NFLPA.
In addition, Schaffer previously told ProFootballTalk.com his client was notified of tests at an address where he did not live, and the NFLPA never informed Browner of the mounting penalties due to his failure to submit to testing during the five-year time span after he was released by Denver and eventually returned to the NFL with Seattle in 2011.
Apparently, the NFL agreed with Schaffer and Browner, which contributed to the reversal.
Browner, 29, is now eligible to enter the free agent market, and NFL teams that want a Pro Bowl cornerback can add him to their wish list, even tough he comes with some drawbacks.
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