Ottawa Citizen

Seahawks’ Sherman wins ap­peal; sus­pen­sion over­turned

Re­turn of start­ing cor­ner­back strength­ens Seat­tle’s de­fence go­ing into play­offs

- TIM BOOTH Sports · NFL Football · American Football · Seattle · Twitter · St Louis · Pittsburgh · Richard Sherman · Seattle Seahawks · Bob Wallace

REN­TON, WASH. • Even when oth­ers were sug­gest­ing he drop his case and ac­cept his pun­ish­ment, Richard Sherman never strayed from his stead­fast be­lief that his fourgame sus­pen­sion would be over­turned.

As un­likely as it seemed, Sherman was right.

The Seat­tle Seahawks will now have one of the best young cor­ner­backs in the NFL avail­able for the play­offs af­ter Sherman learned Thurs­day he had won his ap­peal of a sus­pen­sion for use of per­for­mance-en­hanc­ing sub­stances.

Gone is the lin­ger­ing ques­tion about a pos­si­ble sus­pen­sion that hung over Sherman and the Seahawks for more than a month.

“I know what the truth is and any­body else who knows any­thing knows what the truth is. The truth has been told to­day,” Sherman said on Thurs­day. “Peo­ple can say what they want, there are al­ways naysay­ers. I have great team­mates and great coaches and great fans and that’s all I care about.”

The de­ci­sion that was made by former NFL ex­ec­u­tive Bob Wal­lace came early Thurs­day morn­ing. Sherman was called by his lawyer and sim­ply an­nounced in the Seahawks locker-room, “I won.”

High-fives en­sued. Sherman took to Twit­ter and let his 40,000-plus fol­low­ers know of his re­sult.

A team al­ready rolling on the field with four straight wins and an of­fen­sive out­put un­matched in the last halfdecade of the NFL got even more good news.

“There was ob­vi­ously a good amount of stress be­cause you just don’t know,” said Sherman. “You know how strong your case is, how strong ev­ery­thing is, but it was just great to get it over with.”

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said in an email the league is re­view­ing the de­ci­sion, but was de­clin­ing com­ment due to con­fi­den­tial­ity pro­vi­sions.

Since news broke of his pend­ing sus­pen­sion, Sherman re­mained stead­fast in his be­lief that he would win on ap­peal. Sherman’s ap­peal was based on er­rors in the chain of cus­tody of his urine sam­ple and that there were mis­takes made by the tester.

His ap­peal took place late last week in St. Louis.

A copy of Wal­lace’s de­ci­sion was ob­tained by The As­so­ci­ated Press. In his ex­pla­na­tion, Wal­lace writes that the col­lec­tion process of Sherman’s urine sam­ple on Sept. 17, the day af­ter Seat­tle beat Dal­las in Week 2, was not or­di­nary.

Ac­cord­ing to the writ­ten de­ci­sion, Sherman’s sam­ple cup be­gan leak­ing, to which the tester grabbed an­other cup and trans­ferred the sam­ple. Doc­u­men­ta­tion of the leak­ing cup was not orig­i­nally on the submitted report fol­low­ing the test and, only when asked by a su­per­vi­sor in Oc­to­ber, did the tester ac­knowl­edge the sam­ple be­ing trans­ferred from the orig­i­nal cup.

The tester later gave tes­ti­mony that he’d never ex­pe­ri­enced a leak­ing cup be­fore, yet didn’t feel the sit­u­a­tion rose to the level of need­ing to be in­cluded on his report.

Wal­lace wrote the omis­sion of the leak­ing cup from the report was a “big deal” and that “in­sur­ing a sam­ple is col­lected prop­erly is the cor­ner­stone of the pro­gram and when an event oc­curs that does not hap­pen rou­tinely or that the col­lec­tor has never ex­pe­ri­enced while col­lect­ing the sam­ple it is in­cum­bent upon that col­lec­tor to note what hap­pened.”

“Ac­cord­ingly, Mr. Sherman’s ap­peal is granted and the dis­ci­pline is re­versed,” Wal­lace wrote.

Sherman said when he got word on Nov. 12 of the failed test, he knew it had to do with the sam­ple col­lected in Septem­ber.

“It was a weird day, a weird test­ing pro­ce­dure,” said Sherman. “A lot of things went wrong on that day and that’s why the re­sult came out the way it did, be­cause he made mis­takes and he did things wrong.”

Seat­tle has played the last three weeks with­out fel­low start­ing cor­ner­back Bran­don Browner, serv­ing a four-game sus­pen­sion for a banned sub­stance vi­o­la­tion.

Browner’s sus­pen­sion ex­pires af­ter Sun­day’s game against the Rams, so Seat­tle will have both of its start­ing cor­ner­backs for the post-sea­son.

Ac­cord­ing to STATS, Sherman is tied with Pitts­burgh’s Keenan Lewis for the NFL lead with 23 passes de­fended. He is tied for sec­ond in in­ter­cep­tions with seven.

 ?? OTTO GREULE JR/GETTY IM­AGES ?? From the out­set, Richard Sherman was defiant that his four-game sus­pen­sion would be over­turned.
OTTO GREULE JR/GETTY IM­AGES From the out­set, Richard Sherman was defiant that his four-game sus­pen­sion would be over­turned.

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