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Browner, agent vow to file suit against the NFL


The NFL has issued its decision regarding cornerback Brandon Browner’s suspension. But Browner may still have the last word.

In a statement posted on Twitter, Browner thanked the Seahawks, accepted responsibility for his actions, and vowed to continue to fight his suspension.

“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,” Browner said. “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’s agent, Peter Schaffer, was more direct.

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

Browner contends that his suspension resulted from his placement in Stage Three of the substance-abuse program due to tests he missed while not in the NFL from 2006 to 2011. He had missed enough tests to trigger an indefinite suspension before returning to the league, but he nevertheless was permitted to sign with the Seahawks. The league thereafter placed Browner in Stage Three of the program.

Negotiations aimed at resolving the suspension failed after Browner refused a suspension through October 2014. Under the terms of the substance-abuse policy, a violation committed by a player in Stage Three results in an indefinite suspension with the ability to re-apply after one year.

The odds typically are stacked against a player who challenges the outcome of an arbitration procedure in court. In this case, Browner’s case is strengthened by the fact that he can also sue the NFL for defamation, based on an erroneous report from NFL Media that Browner’s suspension arose under the performance-enhancing drugs policy. Browner also could fashion claims based on the league’s violation of his confidentiality rights via the league’s in-house media conglomerate.

And that’s where the league’s decision to own and operate a media company that reports on player suspensions could get interesting. Browner could argue that a report from the NFL’s media outlet regarding his suspension necessarily violates the supposedly stringent confidentiality provision of the NFL’s substance-abuse policy.

Browner’s situation also could bring into focus other situations that arise when a player no longer is employed by an NFL team, including for example the question of whether players receive appropriate compensation for the use of their names and likenesses in the Madden video game after they have been cut.