When Bruce Irvin was suspended four games for a positive drug test, it wasn’t particularly surprising. That’s because the Seattle Seahawks are fast becoming known as the druggiest team in football, at least since Pete Carroll showed up.
This isn’t the first time a Carroll-coached team has been linked to performance enhancers. As ESPN’s Mike Sando noted, drug rumors followed Carroll’s former players into the NFL Draft back when he coached at USC.
Carroll and the NFL denied a 2009 report linking former USC players to positive steroid tests. One of the players named in that disputed report, Brian Cushing, later served a four-game NFL suspension for violating the policy on anabolic steroids and related substances.
Sando’s story also included the chart you see on the right, which shows where the Seahawks and 49ers rank in the dubious category we can refer to as “PED suspensions per team since Carroll fled USC for totally legitimate reasons, not at all having to do with impending NCAA sanctions.” Those include suspensions for Irvin (Adderall), Brandon Browner (Adderall), Winston Guy (unspecified substance), Allen Barbre (unspecified substance) and John Moffitt (Adderall). Not included: practice squad fullback Vai Taua was suspended four games back in 2011 for a reason that wasn’t announced, and Richard Sherman tested positive for Adderall last season but later had his suspension overturned after an appeal.
It isn’t clear that the Seahawks are using anabolic steroids more than players on other teams, although taking any of these “announcements” at face value might not be the best idea. From Pro Football Talk’s report on Guy’s suspension:
Though the agent didn’t play the increasingly popular Adderall card, the agent and the player can say anything the agent and the player want to say, and the NFL can’t say anything in response. As a result, any steroids user who gets caught can say anything he wants, escaping the steroids stigma.
So either the Seahawks are using this loophole quite frequently, or this is a team that has a bit of an Adderall problem. Whether or not this is Carroll’s fault is impossible for an outsider to determine, but his reputation is being called into question by many, including Seattle columnists.
The chart on the right might not be 100% correct — John McGrath of The News Tribune says the Seahawks are second in PED-related suspensions since 2011 with six. According to McGrath, the Washington Redskins have had seven players suspended. McGrath also questioned Carroll’s silence on the issue.
I keep waiting for Carroll to deplore the fact his team, among 32 in the NFL, ranks No. 2 in drug suspensions since 2011. I keep waiting for him to acknowledge what the rest of us are thinking: Whatever policy the Seahawks are following to discourage players from performance-enhancing drugs, it isn’t enough.
If Carroll were a taciturn sort given to choose words carefully, I’d understand his reluctance to elaborate on a sensitive topic. But he talks in stream-of-consciousness sentences that are more like chapters from an oral-history book, 1,000 words between every pause.
And yet, after Browner and Sherman tested positive last season, Carroll turned mum, dumb and numb.
“I’m not gonna comment about it,” he said then. “This is a league issue.”
Yes, Pete, it’s a league issue. But with six drug suspensions in a little more than two years, it’s also a Seattle Seahawks issue.
I happen to admire Carroll’s faith in extending second chances (and third chances, and fourth chances) to those seemingly perfect athletes prone to make imperfect choices. A career is a terrible thing to waste.
I wrote a tongue-in-cheek “report” on the Seahawks’ draft picks, and after going over it again it seems like Carroll’s “second chances” policy is still in full effect. Out of 11 players the Seahawks drafted, two were suspended for positive drug tests (LSU teammates Spencer Ware and Tharold Simon, who was arrested two days before the draft for public intimidation, resisting arrest and unnecessary noise), one couldn’t get along with his coach (Christine Michael), another who transferred after violating team rules (Michael Bowie), and another with “YOLO” tattooed next to his ear (Jesse Williams). Sorry Jesse, that’s probably unfair. And it’s true, You do Only Live Once.
Who knows, maybe Seattle’s draft class will stay out of trouble. There are plenty of examples of people who make mistakes, learn and move on. Some grow up in rough environments and have to be taught how to behave in the spotlight. But something needs to change in the Pacific Northwest, or the name “Seadderall Seahawks” is going to stick to that organization like Sherman on opposing receivers.