Two mea culpas by the NFL in one week? And to the Seahawks, of all teams?
Were all of the Mayan calendar doomsayers right? Did the world actually end? Are we now living in an alternate universe?
Or is this just the latest sign that something special is brewing for the Hawks this season?
As if 150 points over the last three weeks and a stunning 42-13 blowout of the 49ers were not enough of an omen, the Hawks got good news on two league fronts this week when Richard Sherman was absolved of a positive drug test and Kam Chancellor was not fined for a hellacious hit that drew a penalty even though it should not have.
These things never happen. But twice in one week, the NFL tacitly admitted that it screwed up.
The Sherman case was simply a matter of procedure gone wrong. The NFL admitted it and Sherman is now available for the balance of the season, which begins Sunday against the Rams and continues for at least one playoff game beyond that.
Of course, the NFL apparently was so pissed (pun intended) about it that it made him take a “random” urine test Thursday, the same day he was exonerated of the tainted positive test. Either the league was being vindictive, or it just figured it would try to do it right this time.
The revocation of the suspension means the Seahawks will have both cornerbacks available for the entire playoffs, with Brandon Browner finishing his four-game suspension this week.
“It was a sigh of relief for the whole team, just to know that was done and over with and we could move on from it,” Sherman told reporters, per The News Tribune. “There was obviously a good amount of stress because you just don’t know. You know how strong your case is. You know how strong everything is. It was just great to finally get it over with, and get the win. And to just have that burden off your shoulders, and to be able to move on and try to make this playoff run with my guys.”
The decision was stunning, considering the league almost never capitulates on drug-test appeals. The Hawks have had four other plays suspended in the last year for PED issues; safety Winston Guy just concluded his four-game penalty.
“From more of a holistic point of view, it was big,” fullback Michael Robinson, the team’s union representative, told the TNT. “The players need an appeal won like this, personally. It just showed that justice can be done for us in our favor, when all of the facts are laid out. As a player, you just feel like the league is against you when it doesn’t work in our favor. But this time it did.”
Meanwhile, Chancellor was vindicated for his wicked knockout hit on tight end Vernon Davis early in Seattle’s 42-13 thumping of the Niners on Sunday night. Chancellor was flagged for the hit, which looked perfectly legal on multiple looks via replay — shoulder pads into chest.
“That hit on the sidelines was so vicious that they just had to throw the flag: Something must be wrong, you can’t hit somebody that hard,” coach Pete Carroll told reporters with apparent sarcasm before the non-fine was announced. “But as it turned out, you look at it and you go, ‘What’s the problem?’ So we’ll find out from the league what they think.”
It turns out the league, for once, agrees with the rest of us who know a good, clean hit when we see one. The NFL declined to fine Chancellor, who had been hit for fines totaling $60,000 last season.
“Kam’s figuring it out. He’s learned how to do it, which is great,” Carroll said. “But the officials haven’t caught up with the tempo of it and the impact, and maybe there will be enough examples of it this year and in the league meetings and stuff we’ll be able to point it out. We’ll see what happens. I would love for that play to be emblematic of what is legal.”
We can only hope Carroll is right and the league starts to figure it out. But at least for one week, the Hawks beat the league twice.
The cherry on top of the week would be a win over the Rams coupled with a loss by the 49ers vs. Arizona. That would give the Hawks the No. 2 seed in the NFC, and then we would know for sure that this team is destined for something huge this season.