Allen Kim

Brandon Browner Files 2nd Appeal, May Sue NFL

Dec 21, 2013 12:50 PM EST

Brandon Browner won’t go down without a fight. The Seattle Seahawks cornerback has filed his second appeal over his suspension due to an alleged substance abuse violation. Peter Schaffer, Browner’s agent, has also said that they will sue the league and seek compensation if the two sides are unable to come to an agreement on a reduced sentence for his client.

“This decision shows how skewed and screwed up the NFL appeals process is,” 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.”

Browner is appealing on the basis that the league improperly placed him in Stage 3 of the NFL’s substance-abuse program while he was playing in the Canadian Football league. He has said that he was not aware that he was eligible for testing by the NFL while he was out of the league, and that he never received any notice from the NFL over drug tests that were taken six years ago. Browner also claims that his positive urine test from September was improperly handled.

“This shows how out of touch the NFL is with its former players, especially its undrafted free agents,” Schaffer said. “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.”

Browner was given an opportunity to have his sentence reduced significantly, but he chose to turn the NFL down and fight the suspension. In the last year of his deal in Seattle, Browner was expected to enter free agency as one of the more heavily sought after defensive players. However, that would all be contingent on him getting his suspension lifted or reduced.

“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.”

A matter that complicates this case is that Browner could potentially sue the NFL for defamation. A false report from NFL Media reported that his suspension was a result of a violation of the league’s performance-enhancing drugs policy, and that would violate the confidential nature of the policy.

“We will continue to exhaust all administrative remedies,” Schaffer told ProFootballTalk.  “If not successful, we will sue the living daylights out of the league.”