BY Art Thiel 06:30AM 12/05/2012

Thiel: Seahawks can’t afford loss of cornerbacks

Nine of the Seahawks 12 games were decided by seven points or less, meaning margins are thin. But a flawed drug-policy procedure could cost them big-time.

The Seahawks don’t want to have to depend on aging cornerback Marcus Trufant to save them down the stretch. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest file

Only four NFC teams have records better than the Seahawks’s 7-5: Atlanta (11-1), Green Bay (8-4), Chicago (8-4) and San Francisco (8-3-1). Another way to look at it: Four teams are only a game worse at 6-6, and St. Louis is a half-step back at 5-6-1.

Three-quarters of the way through the season, that sort of snuggliness is not unusual in the NFL. But it is a reminder that if the margins of victory get any smaller, the games will have to be watched by the latest technology innovation: HD electron microscopes.

Look at the Seahawks outcomes: Nine of the 12 games have been decided by seven points or less. The Seahawks are 4-5 in those games. They are a few sneezes and a bout of indigestion from 11-1 or 1-11.

Exhilarating as was the Seahawks’ 23-17 overtime win in Chicago, they are the NFL’s ultimate if/then team: If one play had gone differently, then . . .

That’s why the drug-appeal cases of Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner are so significant this season. From a standpoint of quality production, these top-tier cornerbacks are irreplaceable this late in the year. Their absences would seriously damage an already fading defense.

It probably wouldn’t be big deal Sunday, when the Seahawks host 4-8 Arizona, which has lost eight in a row and has become the Greece of the NFL.

But against a good offense . . . think of it this way. Sherman and Browner were on the field in the final seconds of regulation when Bears quarterback Jay Cutler completed a 56-yard bomb to Brandon Marshall that set up Chicago’s game-tying field goal to force OT. That ball was in the air for sufficient time to have re-enacted the Industrial Revolution in real time, and still the Seahawks defense couldn’t close on the play.

Bad as it was, the splendid Marshall probably would have scored against a less able group, as well as a few times before that (10 receptions, 165 yards). The potential veteran replacements for Sherman and Browner are too old (Marcus Trufant) and too out of game shape (Walter Thurmond, returning from a long injury rehab).

The fate of the Seahawks season may well hinge in a New York hearing room instead of on the field. Both players have maintained the they did not take a banned stimulant. Sherman has his appeal hearing Dec. 14, Browner’s date is so far unknown.

For Sherman, that means he will play at least the next two games. But in either case, the chance of an upheld appeal is said to be slim, although the NFL and players union will not release names of players who beat the rap, under the old have-you-stopped-beating-your-wife custom.

In the Seattle Times Sunday, reporter Danny O’Neill’s interview with special teams player David Vobora, who spent one season (2011) with the Seahawks, had a telling quote. A St. Louis Rams linebacker in 2009 when he was suspended for four games for violating the same substance abuse policy that threatens the Seahawks, Vobora said, “There is an appeals process, but I’m going to be real about it. There’s not much of appeals process. It’s, ‘you’re guilty’ and you’re going to have to serve it, regardless.”

Given how commissioner Roger Goodell handled the infamous “Bountygate” case against the New Orleans Saints, the shoot-first protocol seems an NFL staple.

The guilt or innocence of the players is not knowable to outsiders and not the issue here. The issues are transparency, due process and fairness. According to sources quoted by league-owned media, the positive tests occurred in September, private notice went out in October, the story was leaked anonymously in November and appeals will be ruled on presumably in December. The “system” is believed to be the only known export of North Korea.

And since the NFL is barred by agreement with the players union from announcing the reasons for suspension, only the outcome, it will be left to the discretion of the players and their agents to tell the truth, lie or say nothing.

This set-up is neither fair nor wise, and subject to abuse by any party, as evidenced by the leak, because there appears to be no risk of accountability.

So it seems, again, to fall to the Seahawks, by dint of charges against two top players, to¬† call the sports world’s attention to another failed NFL policy.

It worked once this season, when the Seahawks’ controversial win over Green Bay helped get rid of the replacement referees. When something needs to be done, call a busy team.


  • West coast

    Your a fricking moron where did you learn to write

    • art thiel

      Writing hasn’t been the problem. Writing too fast, now, that’s a problem. I’ve also had problems with the use of your vs. you’re. I appreciate you telling me I’m not alone.

    • steverudman

      I don’t normally comment on “comments.” But here I can’t resist. Anyone can make an honest mistake; we all have, no matter how hard we try to avoid them. But consider what you have done here — certify YOURSELF a moron THREE times in the space of 10 words! You wrote, “Your a frickin moron.” It’s actually “you’re,” not “your.” Obviously, English is not your (not “you’re) first language. Second, you failed to properly punctuate between “moron” and “where.” Third, you failed to end the sentence with a question mark, completing your moron trifecta. And all in 10 words! I’d hate to see what would happen if you had 1,000 words at your disposal, Mr. fricking West Coast.

    • Tim

      Steve…amen brother…too bad that any idiot with an axe to grind can be instantly published. Judging by the consistently atrocious writing on this blog, I’m thinking “West coast”, “Thiel should be fired” and “Thiel “fir” moron of the month” are all the same person–a bitter dude who can’t comprehend his own incoherence.

  • Thiel should be fired

    you lost credibility right from the first sentence…. What about GB what about CHI….. get a clue before you write an article

    • art thiel

      Aw, c’mon, Mom. You don’t want me moving home with you.

  • Thiel fir MORON of the MONTH

    Im now dumber for having read this artice. You art are a douche

    • art thiel

      Thanks for putting my name in the race. I believe I’m the early leader. All I can say is I had all the facts in my glove, and two of them were caught in the webbing. E-sportswriter.

  • steverudman

    Thank you for pointing out the error. It has been corrected.