Seattle Seahawks PED suspensions: Seriously, why don’t we care more?


Take a moment to imagine the dismay if the best team in Major League Baseball, say, the St. Louis Cardinals, had a disproportionate number of suspensions for violations of the league’s substance abuse policy. The reactions would range from impassioned to histrionic. Defenders of the integrity of the game would charge to the fore, dismayed that the results from that season had been tainted. Writers would congratulate themselves for the noble stance of their takes on the situation, promoting their columns like this:

(Team) is a disgrace, and they have forever tainted the results of this season. An asterisk might not be enough…My column.

The National Football League is exponentially more popular than Major League Baseball or any of the other major sports. How is it, then, that a prominent team, a Super Bowl favorite, can have significantly more players than the rest of the league get cracked for violating the substance abuse policy and it is only a 24 hour story (if that)? You would think the dismay over this issue would be more pronounced. You would think the yelling about this situation would only get louder because of the popularity of the sport.

Why is it the opposite?

In the last three years, the Seattle Seahawks have had seven players suspended for PED violations. The most recent guy to fall was Brandon Browner, who will be suspended for a year and is probably done with the Seahawks. The list of players before him who have tested positive includes noteworthy names: Richard Sherman (overturned on appeal), Walter Thurmond, and Bruce Irvin.

Leading up to Monday night’s high profile showdown between the Seahawks and the New Orleans Saints, Terry Blount of ESPN.com wrote the following about the potential negative impact of the most recent PED stories:

That’s the true sadness of all this news. We should be talking about the only 10-1 team in the NFL and how this can be a season to remember for Seattle and its fans.

That won’t happen, at least not this week. This has become the elephant in the room that the Seahawks can’t control.

OK…

The Seahawks proceeded to absolutely stomp out the Saints on national television, with their juiced-up defense on full display. So, was Blount right? Did the “elephant in the room” ruin the excitement about the Seahawks and their fans? Are people starting to discredit the Seahawks and perhaps even question the legitimacy of their success? Did this prevent the football world from enjoying a Seattle victory?

Here are some tidbits of reactions the morning after Seattle’s victory:

And then there is Mike Freeman’s article about the game on Bleacher Report:

This wasn’t so much a game as it was a multi-layered coronation, done in the guise of a punch to the face, thrown by a gentleman. Instigated by an angry defense. Egged on by a volatile crowd.

These are the Seattle Seahawks, officially your NFC favorite to reach the Super Bowl. Sorry San Francisco. Buh bye New Orleans. G’night, Carolina…

…This Seahawks team is wonderfully athletic and formidably powerful. They can knock you out. They can outrun you. If they so choose, they can do both of the above. New Orleans had its largest halftime deficit since 2007 and Drew Brees‘ 74 passing yards through two quarters was his lowest since 2008. This was one of the few times you will ever see Sean Payton out-coached.

I’d say that Seattle’s week of glory remained in tact…

I’m not saying the Seahawks are good because of PEDs; after all, it’s only a handful of players who have been suspended and the details are fuzzy. Still, you have this one team, lauded for its dominance and athleticism on defense, congratulated for their “coronation” on national TV, that also happens to be the only team in the NFL with a trend of failed tests. And yet it is nothing more than a footnote, a nugget that may or may not be worth mentioning on the way to a compliment. I’ll say this again: imagine if a dominant MLB team was also the only team with a trend of positive tests. You can smell the hysteria just thinking about it.

I know football is different because of its “warrior culture,” the way we celebrate the violence of the sport, blah blah blah. I know that this so-called “culture” has been the starting point for the rationalization of PEDs for years. I know all of that, and I still think this question is worth posing: why is it that one team, arguably the best team in the NFL, can continue to follow a different set of rules than the rest of the league and we don’t care?

Why isn’t this a bigger deal?

Tags: Features NFL Popular Seattle Seahawks

  • Matt Gerrish

    For starters, the recent suspension (notice how that wasn’t plural) wasn’t because of PEDs. Thurmond and Browner (in Browner’s case is still in dispute) were both popped for marijuana. But all the sudden, this is an issue for guys like you this year. Despite the fact that ZERO Seahawks have tested positive for PEDs this season, you fan bloggers (who fancy yourselves as journalists) continue to spread misinformation in your headlines about Seattle’s “PED issues,” implying that is a key reason they are enjoying success.

    • Hayden Kane

      Hey Matt – thanks for the comment. And your point about zero PED positive tests this year is an important clarification. I really tried to go out of my way to not imply that it is a key reason for success. So substitute “drug suspension” for “PEDs,” and I still think this is a question worth asking.

      Thanks again for reading and for the comment. And don’t worry…I don’t ever mistake myself for a journalist.

    • Hayden Kane

      Hey Matt – thanks for the comment. And your point about zero PED positive tests this year is an important clarification. It probably wasn’t fair to glaze over that nuance. Having said that, they have still had six PED positive tests in the last two years, so this question is still worth asking.

      I really tried to go out of my way to not imply that it is a key reason for success. The Seahawks are a freaking good team for a lot of reasons, and PEDs are not on that list. My point had more to do with the fact that we are in an era of overreactions, but for some reason people don’t react to this trend very often. That’s interesting…

      Thanks again for reading and for the comment. And don’t worry…I don’t ever mistake myself for a journalist.

  • eeragabba

    Niners fan?

    • Hayden Kane

      Negative – Just a guy with some questions about the way people have reacted to this story over the last few years.

  • JessieAnderson

    Seattle does not lead the league in substance offenses. That honor goes to the Redskins. Outside of that, it will be interesting to see if the NFL actually suspends Browner… It appears he isn’t suspended yet (for weed use)… He’s actually practicing for the 49ers

    • Hayden Kane

      Jessie – thanks for pointing out that they actually don’t have the most offenses. Heck, maybe the answer to my question about the lack of overreactions is the fact that people are well-informed on this story and have a firm grasp of the details of it. But if that’s the case, that would truly be a rare case, no?

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  • http://Allcougdup.com/ AllCoug’dUp (Joshua Davis)

    Here’s my thoughts Hayden as I wrote up a response at 12ManRising for ya ;) http://12thmanrising.com/2013/12/05/seahawks-suspensions-issues-bigger-deal-12th-man/

  • Hawkman54

    Get your facts straight !!!!!! Of the original SEVEN PED’s one was Moffitt ( doctor forgot to turn in his paperwork)- One was a FA who was not on the Hawks when tested and was sent packing the second the news came in- Two others were on other teams when tested but the suspensions came down when with Seattle – THAT LEAVES THREE – COUNT THEM, 3 Players that were on and our part of the Hawks when they got in trouble with Adderall ( two for sure on Adderall) – The recent stuff was for Pot – a completely different ISSUE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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