Seattle Seahawks cornerback Brandon Browner plans to continue to fight his indefinite suspension for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy. His original appeal was denied Wednesday, but he has filed an additional appeal, according to a CBSSports.com report.
According to multiple reports, Browner contested his placement in Stage 3 of the NFL's substance-abuse program, arguing that the league improperly advanced him while he was playing in the Canadian Football League from 2007-10. Browner said he was unaware he was even eligible for continued testing by the NFL while he was out of the league, and did not receive any correspondence related to NFL drug tests taken more than six years ago.
He also reportedly claimed his September urine sample that led to a positive test for a small amount of marijuana in his system was mishandled.
"This decision shows how skewed and screwed up the NFL appeals process is," Browner's agent, Peter Schaffer, said. "One would think the NFL would hold itself to the most fundamental standards of due process and fairness and equity, and would place the mental health and recovery of its players above all else, but this decision is an absolute disgrace to all those worthy concepts."
Numerous media outlets reported that Browner passed on a plea-bargain-type arrangement that would have reduced the length of his suspension. The league upheld its decision to suspend Browner on Wednesday, and he can technically apply for reinstatement after one year.
"We will continue to exhaust all administrative remedies," Schaffer told ProFootballTalk.com. "If not successful, we will sue the living daylights out of the league."
Schaffer's appeal to Jeff Pash, the NFL's chief legal counsel, was made last week and points to wording in the drug police that appears to indicate a player is no longer subject to random drug testing once out of the league for a period of time, based on a certain service time at the NFL level, according to the CBSSports.com report. Shaffer has also taken issue with erroneous reporting by the league's own media arm, which initially reported the suspension to be for performance-enhancing drugs. The NFL Network also reported that Browner had received past notification of his need to take NFL-mandated drug tests because they were sent to his mother, but Browner has contested the address the league had for him when he entered the NFL was for an old girlfriend with whom he no longer has contact with.
"This shows how out of touch the NFL is with its former players, especially its undrafted free agents," Schaffer said, per CBSSports.com. "To sit there and say we sent a letter to his mother's address so therefore he got it -- are you kidding me?
"This guy just got cut. There's no proof he got any of this mail. When these guys get cut they go anywhere they can. They live in a friend's basement, or whatever. These are kids right out of college; they've never made any money. You go wherever you have to go. Come on, you're collecting unemployment at this point, and they said they sent a letter to his mom's house so he must have got it."
Asked if the NFL Media reports would be part of any lawsuit against the league, Schaffer told CBSSports.com, "Absolutely, absolutely, absolutely. Yes it will."
Schaffer said all options will be exhausted before any potential lawsuit is filed.
"There is another entire issue to this, which is: Do they have a right to do anything to a player who is not a part of league, not a part of the collective bargaining agreement?" Schaffer said. "And they say if they test, then they also give treatment -- I've never once seen that they gave Brandon any treatment while he was out of the league.
"If they want to do this, then it has to be a two-way street. Don't say a guy is in the program, because if you say you've got a program and then you're not giving him any treatment at all, or helping the player deal with the problem, and then you expect the problems to just go away, that's so hypocritical it's embarrassing."
Browner, who last played Nov. 10, is suspended without pay and is scheduled to become a free agent after the season. The indefinite suspension, if upheld, will greatly impact his ability to land a lucrative contract, especially with prospective new teams knowing he is one failed test away from another lengthy - if not permanent - suspension.
Browner has missed the Seahawks' past four games due to a groin strain. Walter Thurmond started the first game in his place before beginning his own four-game suspension due to a violation of the substance-abuse policy, and is eligible to return to the team Monday. Byron Maxwell has started the past three games and had a pair of interceptions against the New York Giants last week.
Jeremy Lane has played well in increased playing time as well, and FOXSports.com reported that Antoine Winfield, who was released by the Seahawks at the end of training camp, is not interested in coming out of retirement at this time.
On Wednesday, Browner posted a statement to his Twitter account that read: "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!!! "
Browner was suspended for the final four regular-season games last season for a violation related to performance-enhancing drugs.