While Richard Sherman and the Seattle Seahawks’ defense command all the attention entering Sunday’s Super Bowl showdown with the Denver Broncos, one key member of their league-leading unit is sitting at home wondering “what if?”
Cornerback Brandon Browner started eight games opposite Sherman this season. A lingering groin injury sidelined Browner for a few weeks, but, just as he was getting back to full health, his season came to an abrupt end.
The NFL suspended Browner indefinitely in early December for violating its substance-abuse policy, meaning he’ll need to sit out a full year before being allowed to apply for reinstatement. So while he was a key contributor for much of the season, Browner must sit at home and watch his teammates take the MetLife Stadium field without him.
“It’s impossible to escape everything going on with the Super Bowl,” Browner said, per CBSSports.com. “But you deal with it, and I’ve been dealing with it for so long now. This has been a part of my daily livelihood for a few months now, and I wake up and go to sleep with it on my mind. I use it as motivation to work hard and stay in shape, just in case this thing gets overturned, because I definitely don’t want my career to end on this note.
“Most definitely I’ve tuned in to all the games, and my family has been pretty supportive and they’re out here every Saturday and Sunday since I’ve been back in California,” Browner added. “But it’s tough actually. I actually try to go upstairs and try to watch the game by myself and really focus on what’s going on and how I could help my teammates and what I can see. My family gets all excited and it starts getting loud, and I usually end up in my room watching.”
Browner first violated the league’s drug policy in 2006 when he was a member of the Broncos. He was subsequently released by Denver and spent three seasons in the CFL before returning to the NFL in 2009. During his time away, Browner was unaware that he still was subject to NFL drug tests, so he didn’t participate in the drug program during that time. So Browner’s failed test this season technically counted as his third such during his NFL career, prompting the indefinite suspension.
Browner has appealed the suspension, which could be overturned at some point this offseason. But it won’t change the fact that Browner will miss possibly his only chance at playing in a Super Bowl.
Browner is happy for his teammates, but he can’t hide his frustration over not being alongside them.
“Oh, it’s awesome,” Browner said about the Seahawks’ Super Bowl trip, per USA Today. “The only thing missing is actually being there.”
While Browner will barely admit his displeasure about not playing in the big game, his agent is a little more forthcoming.
“The idea of missing a Super Bowl is what’s kept me up at night,” Peter Schaffer said. “Brandon won’t say it because he’s way too humble and much too much of (a) team player. But that’s the thing that bothers me most. They’re taking away something you can’t buy.”