After Sunday’s game against the Miami Dolphins, Seahawks fans began hearing reports that Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner were facing suspension by the NFL for violating the policy on performance-enhancing drugs.
The first report came from Mike Garafolo of USA Today. The report brought up a lot of questions about exactly how this could have happened and what kind of drugs had been found in their systems.
The report stated that Sherman’s explanation was "he unknowingly ingested Adderall prescribed to a teammate" and that "he accidentally drank from a bottle" that had a crushed pill.
When I first read this report, I couldn’t help but think this might be one of the lamest excuses from an athlete suspected of using PEDs. The reports in the media regarding the USA Today article made it sound like the excuse had come straight from Sherman’s mouth.
The problem is the source from Garafolo’s report was "a person informed of Sherman’s explanation."
It wasn’t even an "anonymous source close to Sherman" or an “anonymous teammate"?
The source was someone who had been informed of the explanation, so he or she wasn’t even the person hearing it directly from Sherman.
If someone who had heard the excuse secondhand were to tell me, and I went and talked to Garafalo—I could be the source!
Where exactly in the information chain did this person get informed? Obviously, Garafolo was familiar enough with the source to the extent that he felt the information was trustworthy enough to publish. So now I get to speculate.
This is what it sounds like to me:
A PR person within the Seahawks heard people talking about Sherman’s possible explanation. When Garafolo asked, “How do you suppose it got in his system?” the tainted water bottle excuse was one of a few that were listed, and the reporter went with it. Or maybe the source is a friend of the a guy who picks up towels in the locker room.
The problem with an anonymous source like this is that readers have to trust what the reporter believes to be a credible source. Since the source is not even close enough to the situation to have heard it firsthand, Sherman’s outright denial is much more plausible at this point to me.
But just suppose the rumor is true.
For one, I can't think of an instance of being so thirsty that I had to drink out of another man's water bottle. But I'm willing to accept that it's part of the culture of the sport. I suppose you could say the players are technically sharing water from the bottles that trainers run onto the field during timeouts.
But, if it is part of the culture, and there is a teammate who is properly using prescribed medication that is on the banned substance list, then it is up to that player to make sure that his bottle is labeled in a way other teammates don't use it.
You need to make it as obvious as putting the red jersey on a quarterback or injured player, or make it as clear as a cancer warning on a pack of cigarettes: "THERE ARE PEDs IN THIS WATER BOTTLE."
With rookie Winston Guy recently being suspended for using PEDs, this is definitely a cause for concern. Unfortunately, we are unlikely to hear an explanation on it anytime soon.
The Seahawks announced on Wednesday that Browner and Sherman had released a joint statement saying, "To allow our focus to remain on football, during the appeal process we will refrain from any further public comments regarding this situation. Thank you for your consideration on this matter."
We know the Seahawks' top corners will play on Sunday against the Bears, but after that we’ll have to wait and see if Marcus Trufant, Walter Thurmond and Byron Maxwell will have to step up and finish off the regular season.
Until then, I will continue to hope that there is a good explanation. Whatever the truth is, I hope it comes out.
Brandan Schulze is a Navy veteran and member of the Military Sea Hawkers, the military chapter of the official booster club for the Seattle Seahawks. For more information on the chapter, visit www.militaryseahawkers.com Membership is free for all military service members and veterans.