In a day and age where perception can sometimes be just as important as the truth, Seattle Seahawks cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner have both taken two very different approaches to their alleged conduct.
Immediately following the Seahawks disappointing loss in Miami a little more than two weeks ago, ESPN's Adam Schefter dropped a bombshell that both Sherman and Browner tested positive for a banned substance and each faced a four-game suspension.
Upon hearing the news, Sherman responded via Twitter with assurances of innocence; however following that statement I assumed that both players would be asked to keep quiet until the matter was resolved for better or worse.
Browner it seemed took to the script and then last week surprisingly dropped his appeal, by conceding that he couldn't win according to Mike Florio of the Pro Football Times.
A source with knowledge of the situation tells PFT that Brandon Browner decided that he couldn’t win the appeal, given the procedures to which the league and the NFLPA have agreed regarding drug testing. Despite concerns regarding the collection process, the rules that apply to internal appeals make it difficult if not impossible to prevail.
So even if Browner didn’t knowingly or unknowingly ingest a substance contain amphetamines — or even if he didn’t actually consume a substance containing amphetamines — he produced a sample that generated a positive result for amphetamines. Even if it was a false positive or a bad sample or any other irregularity, Browner will miss four games, eventually.
For the time being, Browner's defense of "You can't fight the system," is an interesting one that doesn't actually get to the root of the problem in providing any real answers.
Is Browner innocent or guilty?
By quietly serving his suspension now we may never know, as the plan it seems is to have Browner avoid further damage of his reputation and be active come playoff time for the Seahawks.
And with that, the beat goes on as head coach Pete Carroll explained to Seattle Times writer Jerry Brewer last week immediately following the start of Browner's suspension:
"I've been disappointed about the whole situation, that it is something that he had to deal with it, and we had to deal with it," Carroll said when pressed about Browner's suspension. "But there is nothing we can do at this point."
If you were delusional enough to invent a conspiracy theory that would save Browner and Sherman from punishment, now you're left rationalizing how everything will be just fine.
Yet oddly enough the 'Hawks have strung together two impressive wins since their meltdown in Miami that has simultaneously eased the sting of Browner's suspension and has people believing the team may even have a shot at the division title.
Winning has a funny way of "solving" things, but what's interesting is that while Brandon Browner went down somewhat quietly, Richard Sherman has taken the news of his potential suspension as an opportunity to tell his story both on and off the field.
Following the 'Hawks 58-0 win on Sunday, Brewer in an article for the Seattle Times summed up Sherman brilliantly by explaining:
Sherman is either innocent of this performance-enhancing drugs charge, or he's the most impervious busted athlete ever. Or he can convince himself to think anything to fit any moment, to see blue skies when clouds are hovering. It's a kind of mental fortitude that you must admire, despite having conflicting thoughts about his possible four-game suspension.
He is an irrepressible spirit. You enjoy him because he leaves you no choice. You wince at his bravado and wonder when his antics will become too much. But then he does something spectacular again, he celebrates like a first-grader at recess, and you can't help but smile while shaking your head. Suddenly, you're impervious to cynicism.
In an article with Yahoo!Sports Michael Silver, the two discuss just about everything you'd ever want to know about Sherman, but only discuss the obvious briefly:
Sherman, who claims he did nothing wrong, has appealed the suspension, which allows him to play pending its resolution. "It's gonna get solved and I think at the end of the day it'll get worked out fine," Sherman insisted.
The more you hear and see from Sherman, the more you want to believe him, but it's just not that easy.
Facing perhaps their toughest opponent yet, Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman have both taken different approaches, but which one will prevail...quiet resignation or defiantly fighting the system?
By being outspoken and confident Sherman is putting his reputation on the line which speaks to his competitive spirit, but if guilty, he arguably stands to lose so much more than Browner who kept quiet.
Speaking of Browner I was disappointed that he dropped his appeal without fighting it.
Right now though everyone is focused on the 'Hawks recent success and push for the postseason; meanwhile the idea of having Sherman in the lineup for the time being and Browner back in time for the playoffs has appeased the masses.
So why dredge up bad news that the team might be able to overcome?
Because I want real answers, not spin.
What worries me is that we may never get to the truth, as I can't imagine Sherman will concede to defeat even if he does end up serving the four games after making his appeal to the NFL.
Our only hope is that Sherman is right, otherwise it's going to be hard to trust him, Browner and by extension the Seahawks organization as run by Pete Carroll.
The odds are not in Sherman's favor, but for someone that's made a habit of proving people wrong over time, I like to think he has a shot.
Fingers crossed, but either way we will never be able to look at Sherman or Browner the same way again.