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Published: Wednesday, November 27, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Seahawks: Not the Legion of Bong

Lay the blame on players who broke the rules

  • Seahawks cornerback Brandon Browner, according to reports, will be suspended one year for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy. Seattle cornerba...

    Jennifer Buchanan / The Herald

    Seahawks cornerback Brandon Browner, according to reports, will be suspended one year for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy. Seattle cornerback Walter Thurmond was suspended four games by the NFL on Tuesday for violating the substance abuse policy.

RENTON -- In a marriage of the digital age to digital gestures, fans are using the suspensions of two Seattle Seahawk cornerbacks as cause to electronically point fingers of blame.
The NFL officially announced the suspension of Walter Thurmond on Tuesday, while the reported year-long suspension of Brandon Browner is, as yet, unofficial.
Both reportedly are busted for violations of the league's substance-abuse policy, which is not a matter of performance-enhancers, the cause of other bad tests the past several seasons.
It leaves the Seahawks having to address depth issues in the secondary as they head into the crucial five-game month of December.
So the tweeters and bloggers and bleeters want answers.
And all the Screamin' A. Smiths and the like on national broadcasts are painting the Seahawks as caricatures, as if Cheech and Chong are starting at cornerbacks.
But before tarring the whole group by association, let's clarify that this is not the Legion of Bong.
While the Browner reports were breaking Monday, safety Kam Chancellor was speaking to school kids and raising money for Toys for Tots. And Earl Thomas was probably playing the piano for old folks at a church someplace.
So if you demand blame, I'd lay the bulk on the guys who made the decision to break the rules, although they were well aware they were open to testing, and their absences by suspension would threaten what promised to be one of the best seasons in team history.
Young guys make errors in judgment. So does everybody else from time to time. This will cost them both far beyond the paychecks they'll forfeit.
Thurmond and Browner are two who would seem specifically appreciative of their opportunities. The Seahawks kept Thurmond around despite a number of leg injuries. He finally got healthy and now the team needs him and can't capitalize on the investment in him.
Browner tried for years to land on NFL teams and spent four seasons in the CFL. The Seahawks gave him that chance.
Other factions point at head coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider; Carroll for running a loose ship and, along with Schneider, occasionally adding players who might be at-risk in terms of character or behavioral issues.
Objections to their approach bring the question: Do you like the way they've built a young roster that has a stranglehold on the division and has the best record in the NFL?
Carroll addressed the media after Tuesday's practice, the first time since the Thurmond suspension was official. He is limited to general comments by league statute.
He came off a little self-serving when he stressed his eagerness to take chances on guys who might need "extra consideration or care" because "I've always been kind of hopeful."
That's who he is, though. As a result, players obviously love playing for this guy. It fuels the energy and spirit that helps the team show up fully engaged every day for practice and every time they kick off a game.
His conviction isn't wavering.
"This team is very strong about where we're going and what we're doing," Carroll said. "Because somebody slips doesn't mean we're not on track. I think we're on tremendous track here. The focus around here, the dedication to what we're doing, the standard we hold them to in all areas. Look at where we are; they've been exemplary in many areas."
Summing the whole episode, Carroll used the word "disappointment."
Yeah, that works.
But I think the most concerning is what seems like a disrespect for Seahawk teammates.
When linebacker Bruce Irvin was flagged for a PED violation in the spring, which would sideline him for the first four games, team leaders called a meeting.
This can't happen, they said. There's too much at stake this season. There's too much potential for this team. Guys can't be lost to suspension.
They called for accountability; they called for guys to remember they were responsible to each other on the field and off the field.
It didn't come from the coaches or the bosses, it came from within, from each other.
And to forget that seems like the real violation in this matter.

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