Is the abnormal tale of Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman too good to be true?
Seahawks cornerbacks Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman are facing possible suspensions for using performance-enhancing drugs. If they lose their appeals, the Seahawks will face many questions.
Times staff columnist
RENTON — Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman are the best story of this rejuvenated Seahawks franchise. A castoff from the Canadian Football League and an unheralded fifth-round draft pick unite and use their redwood-tree height and albatross wingspans to protect the Seahawks from evil wide receivers across the NFL. It's an abnormally good tale worthy of a Marvel comic book.
Out of nowhere, the castoff, 6-foot-4 Browner and unheralded, 6-3 Sherman have become the best cornerback tandem in the best secondary in the NFL. And they have done so by creating their own imposing style. They have brought a linebacker's brawn to a finesse position, using man-to-man press coverage as their trademark, but they're not bruisers with no skill. Sherman is ultra athletic and swift. Browner is a deceptively gifted athlete. Together, they define the Seahawks' talented, oversized young defense.
"They're special in their effectiveness," coach Pete Carroll said Monday.
Now, though, they're at risk of becoming a special cautionary tale.
Browner and Sherman have been flagged as testing positive for a banned performance-enhancing drug, and if they don't win an appeal, they're both looking at four-game suspensions. But more sobering is the notion that their greatness could prove too good to be true.
That abnormally good tale — yeah, the emphasis will be on abnormal if they're busted for doping.
It should be noted that we're not talking steroids here. But even if reports are true that the cornerbacks tested positive for an amphetamine because they took Adderall, a drug commonly used for attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder, it would be impossible to dismiss the suspension as merely some lesser violation. If Browner and Sherman are suspended under the league's policy on performance-enhancing drugs, their incredible success the past two seasons is certain to be called into question.
The integrity of their greatness would be in doubt. Make no mistake, greatness is the proper word. There are comparable individual corners that create havoc and force opposing quarterbacks to think twice before throwing their way, but Browner and Sherman are peerless as a duo. No other NFL team has two corners this big, this complete, this effective and this burdensome for opposing receivers.
But how did these two go from near afterthoughts to two of the best 10 cornerbacks in the game? How have they been able to play with such astounding consistency? Why do they play with the motor of players who are much smaller?
A drug suspension would make all of these questions valid. It would also raise a few other troubling issues.
If Browner and Sherman join John Moffitt, Winston Guy and former Seahawks lineman Allen Barbre on the list of Seahawks to be suspended for PEDs the past two seasons, how concerned should we be about the locker room's culture?
Or, more pointedly: Is Carroll — who is known for being all over the place, often at the same time — attentive enough and doing all that he can to teach his players about acceptable and banned drugs?
Carroll didn't answer any questions about the issue Monday. He can't say much because he would be fined $500,000 for talking about a process that the NFL keeps shrouded in mystery.
"We'll talk about that later in a general, broader sense," Carroll said of the Seahawks' disturbing drug-suspension trend.
When he can discuss it, the coach will have a lot of questions to answer if Browner and Sherman are suspended. In a sense, he created the tandem. He craved big corners who could play tight, press coverage. The development of Browner and Sherman has been one of the greatest coaching successes in his career, and it is allowing the Seahawks to build not just a dominant defense, but one with an unrivaled style because the world is not blessed with giant cornerbacks who can move like these two.
But are they a blessing? Or is their talent artificially enhanced? If the latter is true, even in the smallest way, it tarnishes some of what Browner and Sherman have achieved.
Sherman posted on his Twitter feed Sunday night, saying "This is (an) issue will be resolved soon and the truth will come out. Not worried."
But it seems that all busted athletes speak of truth coming out, and from my experience, that truth is either elusive or shy. It never comes out. Because you can't give a lie a fake ID and expect it to get past a skeptical public.
If there is more to the story, it had better reveal itself soon. The Seahawks' season could be at stake if Browner and Sherman are suspended.
But even more worrisome is whether you can trust and keep depending upon the greatness of two abnormally good cornerbacks who make the Seahawks incomparable.
About Jerry Brewer
Jerry Brewer offers a unique perspective on the world of sports.
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