BY Art Thiel 05:23PM 11/24/2013

Thiel: Bust another hit to Seahawks roster, image

Thurmond was starting for an injured Brandon Browner, making his pending suspension by the NFL an even harder hit to the roster — and to the Seahawks’ national image.

Walter Thurmond reportedly is the latest Seahawk to face NFL suspension for violation of the NFL’s substance abuse policy. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest file

PEDhawks. PotHawks. Seadderall Seahawks.

When teams develop national profiles with success, their habits, quirks and misdeeds also go national. It’s the snarky side of having the best record in the NFL. Walter Thurmond now adds to the nickname legacy that will be part of the media feast during the postseason.

We don’t know the drug of choice, nor the circumstances, that caused the NFL to be on the verge of suspending the starting cornerback for four games — only that it isn’t a performance-enhancing drug, according to NFL.com. That likely means a street drug, the likeliest being marijuana.

If it is pot (Legion of Bong?), it is likely not to cause much of a moral stir in a state where it is legal. But as we have come to learn, morality has relatively little to do with pro football. Wins have to do with pro football. That’s where Thurmond will irk the Seahawks constituency, because he leaves his teammates thin for reasons having nothing to do with football.

If the reports from unnamed sources via the NFL’s media partners are accurate, Thurmond is going to drop his appeal of the suspension so that his suspension starts with the Saints Monday night game, which allows him to get him back for the last regular-season game and the playoffs. It’s similar to the Brandon Browner scenario a year ago when he missed the final four regular-season games for what was said to be use of Adderall, a prescription stimulant.

Browner is out again, this time for a groin-muscle tear from the Atlanta game Nov. 10 that will keep him away for four to six weeks, according to Pete Carroll. With Thurmond, Browner’s  backup, gone, that leaves the Seahawks roster with three healthy CBs — Richard Sherman, Byron Maxwell and Jeremy Lane — against the No. 2 passing offense in the NFL.

The Seahawks likely will elevate Maxwell to start. Lane would become the nickel back. They also have on the practice squad CB DeShawn Shead, a free agent from Portland State signed in 2012. Scheduled to return to practice this week is CB Therald Simon, a rookie fourth-round draft pick who has sat out since spring after a foot injury.

Those aren’t great options, although Sherman had no time for such talk.

“I think we move forward strong,’’ Sherman told Fox Football Daily on Sunday. “We played like this before (in 2012). We played four games with myself, Byron Maxwell and Jeremy Lane and we won those games by a considerable amount. So I think we will be fine.

“It will be great to get him back before the playoffs and make sure he gets his feet back under him. But I think we will get past it.’’

True, but the Seahawks in 2012 were happy to be a playoff team. This year’s regular-season ambition was to have home-field advantage in the playoffs. If the season ended today, they would have it with the NFC’s best record. But the remaining schedule suddenly looks more formidable. Among the Saints (9-2), 49ers (6-4), Giants (4-7), Cardinals (7-4) and Rams (5-6), there are no cupcakes that dotted the early schedule, which graded out as the easiest by record in the NFL. There is little slack to assure home field.

So Thurmond’s absence, apparently for no reason but foolishness, is the kind of knucklehead move that grates on Carroll, even if he won’t call out a player in public. Carroll is big on creating a positive atmosphere, but that doesn’t include a drug-test outcome.

If the sequence is similar to other NFL drug busts, the test happened weeks ago. The team is likely to have known about it after Thurmond said he would appeal. So they have been plotting contingencies, which explains why Carroll has been coy about the Browner injury, avoiding putting him on the injured reserve list. That would have ended his regular season but opened a roster spot. Now they really have to hope Browner is back in late December.

Besides the roster complications, Thurmond, a four-year vet blossoming after three seasons of injuries, becomes the seventh Seahawk busted for something since 2010 — eight, if Sherman’s positive test counted, one that was overturned on a chain-of-custody failure by testers.

Just when people were forgetting LB Bruce Irvin’s bust for a PED believed to be the prescribed stimulant Adderall, Thurmond’s non-PED bust re-conjures images of a little woodsy compound run by Carroll, a native of San Francisco, that could be taken from an album cover from the 1960s. To complete the stereotype, Thurmond played at the University of Oregon in Eugene, where everyone in town is named Dude.

Doesn’t matter if the sensibilities about marijuana are changing. It is still possible for companies, governments and sports leagues to prohibit pot use as a condition of employment, often collectively bargained. The ban is probably good, if you are flying an airplane, sharpshooting a bad guy or operating on a brain.

Even if you are, say, merely defending WR Marques Colston on an out-route pass from Drew Brees, as Thurmond might have been expected to do Dec. 2 against New Orleans at the Clink, the league and the players union have agreed to say nope to dope.

Everyone knows that. Especially including Thurmond, who along with Browner, is scheduled for free agency after the season.

The road to the Super Bowl is always fraught with peril. No need to go looking for open manholes.


YourThoughts

  • Jeff

    PED’s and I’d agree with you… this is just a reflection on society and the team hasn’t had many substance abuse related issues in recent years. I’m guessing he’s getting suspended after popping for something the majority of people in this state made a legal activity… the NFL didn’t of course, so he broke a rule, he’s getting punished, and he’s likely cost himself several million dollars before being a free agent in becoming the charter member of the “Legion of Choom”. I read in regards to the Sam Hurd trial that pot use in the NFL is pretty widespread, but some mistime their “dry” period with the 1 annual test.

  • Tom Robinson

    Art Thiel you are an idiot. Why would you think Thurmond or Irvin reflect the Seahawk image. It is much more than two players. The Seahawks exemplify quality play in pro football this year. Write an article about the depth of the Seahawks (there is little dropoff from Thurmond to Jeremy Lane). Keep it positive. Don’t be a jerk that seeks to tear down Seattle like your article does, we get enough of that from the national media. Thurmond’s personal issue will have no impact on the next 4 games, write about that. Your article implies that individual violations are really systemic issues attributed to ownership or coaching lack of control over players….I’d love to be the fly on the wall if Pete ever wants to question you about the intent of your article.

    • Tian Biao

      If Maxwell and Lane were as good as Thurmond, they would be in the starting lineup instead of Thurmond. But they’re not as good. So this obviously hurts the Seahawks – not sure I can see any other conclusion here. And yes it hurts the team’s image – how can it not? And unfortunately, it is part of a pattern – seven busted Seahawks since 2010, eight counting Sherman? It’s a pattern that a lot of fans wish would end.

      • jafabian

        If Thurmond is getting a four game suspension then he’s been warned before. This isn’t a first time for him.

    • RadioGuy

      Tom, the Seahawks are not the White House and Art is not Jay Carney. If you want positive spin, go to the team website (where never is heard a discouraging word). Real journalism involves exercising critical thought and honesty, not piloting the Good Ship Lollipop.

  • Gary S

    Dude, good article! I’m growing weary of the boneheads on this team who are making these stupid decisions regarding banned substance use. There have been far too many suspensions on this team for it not to be, at least in part, a culture problem within the Seahawks organization. Oh, and one more thing Art, I have been reading your prose for over thirty years and I have concluded you are guilty of being a lot of things, but an idiot isn’t one of them.

  • Jeff Shope

    This was not an accident it was not a mistake. He knew exactly what he was risking for this team and did it anyway. If he didn’t know after seeing the sherman BB and Irvin ordeals then he is a total and complete moron

  • Gerald Turner

    OK Jeremy Lane time! He makes big plays in preseason, seems to have right spot right time instincts, lets see if he can do it on the big stage.

  • http://rip-ragged.com/dross Raymond Meyers

    I saw a funny Facebook post from one of the Seahawks Support groups that urges forgiveness of Walter for his “mistake.” Fiddlesticks. Talent and skill are no replacements for responsibility and integrity. A little more than lip service to contrition is in order before forgiveness should be expected.

  • notaboomer

    it’s the nfl not just the seahawks. unless it’s leaked, we will never know the substance by the terms of the CBA. having recently read “Game of Shadows,” i tend to believe that thurmond was better at covering the fade than at covering his ped use. it’s a game that still goes on for sure in all big time sports.

  • Effzee

    I really wish the Ducks didn’t have to be located in Eugene, because other than that, I love that place.

  • Rob W

    Next Man Up! Good work, Art. Love the “Legion of Bong”.

  • James Jennason

    Hey now! With the latest shoe dropping on Browner, we now have two boobs! Good news for college guys and whoever’s filming “Seahawks Gone Wild.” Talk about nature abwhoring a vacuum. ;)