Sports with Art Thiel
5:00 am
Fri November 30, 2012

What's behind the leak of the Seahawks' drug controversy?

The Seahawks claim it's not a distraction. But KPLU sports commentator Art Thiel begs to differ. Star cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner will be playing under a cloud of controversy this Sunday in Chicago, as they appeal a reported violation of the NFL's drug policy.

Definite distraction

Art says there's something unusual about this case. Word was leaked to ESPN.com that Sherman and Browner had tested positive for a banned substance - very early in the process.

"The NFL broke its own protocol here, somehow. Unnamed sources told ESPN.com that these two players were in violation. Normally that news does not happen until an appeals process takes place behind closed doors. If the appeal is successful, no one will hear that that player was under scrutiny. If it's unsuccessful, the players then are, by policy, suspended for four games. The Seahawks are very worried about this because these are two key players they don't want to be suspended for any time. Especially now, late in the season, when the playoffs are in the balance."

Is it a conspiracy?

Art says there's a cloud over Sherman and Browner that shouldn't be there.

"These players are out there in public, known to have a positive test. But we don't know whether it's true or not. Both players, through their agents, have claimed innocence. They are appealing. They believe it's a mistake. You have to wonder, if you're a Seahawks conspiracy theorist, who had it in for the Seahawks to 'out' their players and no one else's?"

'I know what I know'

Art talked to Richard Sherman about the controversy after the team practiced on Wednesday.

"I asked him 'If you are a victim of a misunderstanding, do you care?' He said 'No. Not at all. This is a misunderstanding. It's a mishap. Life goes on. You have to just let it all play out. I know what I know.'"

According to ESPN.com, if Browner and Sherman are found guilty of violating the league's policy, they would be the fourth and fifth Seahawks players to do so in the last calendar year.

Guard John Moffitt was suspended four games late last season. Reserve offensive lineman Allen Barbre was suspended for the first four games of this season before being released by the team after his suspension. And just last week, rookie safety Winston Guy was handed a four-game suspension after taking an over-the-counter product that had a banned substance in the ingredients.