Seahawks’ Brandon Browner to sue NFL over suspension

Brandon Browner

Former Seattle Seahawks cornerback Brandon Browner will sue the NFL next week in order to challenge his indefinite drug suspension from the league, Browner’s lawyer and agent Peter Schaffer told Pro FootballTalk’s Mike Florio.

Schaffer will also file a preliminary injunction that would allow Browner to enter free agency on March 11, as well as practice and play until the lawsuit is resolved.

“I’m not afraid to fight City Hall,” Schaffer told PFT by phone on Wednesday.  “I’ve bent over backward to find a way to work something out with the league to make everyone comfortable.”

In December, the league announced Browner’s indefinite ban after he refused a deal that would have reduced his one-year suspension, which was announced in November.  Originally the reports were that the ban stemmed from a failed test for performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs), but that was later retracted to reflect that the ban was not related to PED use, but a recreational drug instead.  That recreational drug turned out to be marijuana.

Browner’s suit will seek to change NFL policy regarding pot use:

The lawsuit will be accompanied by an administrative complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission claiming that the NFL’s overall approach to players who chronically test positive for marijuana violates the Americans with Disabilities Act.  Browner is expected to argue that the NFL at a minimum views players who repeatedly violate the policy as being addicted to marijuana, and that the league’s handling of those players violates the duty to provide a reasonable accommodation.

Despite playing in just eight games for the Seattle Seahawks, and even though he has been suspended indefinitely for using a banned substance, the 29-year-old cornerback Browner reportedly got paid for Seattle’s playoff games and will receive a Super Bowl ring.  He finished the 2013 season with 19 combined tackles and one interception.

An original member of the Legion of Boom and an integral part of the team’s rise in the past three seasons, Browner got a check for $131,000 after the Seahawks won the Super Bowl, according to NBC’s Pro Football Talk. About $44,000 of that was for Seattle’s appearance in the NFC Championship game and $97,00 was for the Big Game in New Jersey.

A three-year veteran for Seattle, Browner has accumulated a career 117 combined tackles, three forced fumbles and 10 interceptions.  His contract with Seattle expired at the end of the 2013 season, and there is next to no chance Browner will return to the field for Seahawks in 2014, as his indefinite suspension began in just December.

Unless his lawsuit is a success and he is able to enter free agency on March 11, Browner will be able to apply for reinstatement one year after the beginning of his suspension.