Walter Thurmond facing four game suspension

November 24th, 2013 | Written by Rob Staton

One suspension is a suspension too many for any team.

The Seahawks, for all their positives, have a serious issue on their hands here.

And it’s becoming a bit of a farce.

Too many players are missing big games. Since Pete Carroll arrived in Seattle, seven (S-E-V-E-N) players have been suspended. Six for PED related issues, and now Thurmond for Substance Abuse.

Vai Taua, John Moffitt, Allen Barbre, Winston Guy, Brandon Browner, Bruce Irvin and Walter Thurmond.

Richard Sherman also faced a suspension last year, but avoided missing any time after a successful appeal.

After Irvin’s suspension, Carroll stated, “This is a challenge…. it’s a challenge for us, and it’s a challenge for the league. The league is doing everything they can to help guys make it through these young careers that they have.… And we are too.”

Yet here we are, seeing another Seahawks player suspended.

At a time when Seattle’s football team is 10-1, a legitimate Super Bowl contender and getting praise from all quarters, this issue is threatening to undermine everything they’ve achieved on the field.

It’s damaging reputations. It’s already gone too far.

And more than anything it’s costing the team. With Brandon Browner out for 4-6 weeks, Thurmond is now going to miss a month. Right before a game against Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints.

Unacceptable.

56 Responses to “Walter Thurmond facing four game suspension”

  1. Dean says:

    Nice timing Thurmond. It’s almost unbelievable.

    Does this cost us home field ?

  2. Nathan says:

    This just isn’t good enough anymore. He shouldn’t be back with the team next year. We need to send a message to the rest of the team. A zero tolerance policy needs to be upheld from now on. The reputation of this team is too important to be spoiled by a few idiot players not following the rules.

    • Hay stacker509 says:

      AGREED! After Irvin’s suspension the team has been doing great and now this?! Cut him at the end. Like you said and send a message to the team. Just because your good doesn’t give you an excuse. You damage the team in more ways then he knows!

      • Cameron says:

        If they really felt that way, why not just cut him now?

        • Nathan says:

          Just my opinion, not sure they actually do feel that way. They need to get this sorted and letting Thurmond go or just cutting him would be a strong message to the other players.

    • Carl says:

      They won’t cut him over this. We don’t have Tim Ruskell back there making boyscout decisions. That didn’t get us anywhere. The guys we look for now can have major character issues as long as they want to win more than the other guys, and are physically superior. Not all of the Seahawks are nice guys anymore. They play mean, they play hard, and they win.

      • Nathan says:

        I see where you are coming from but this problem still needs to be solved. What’s the point in even having these players if they’re not playing? I know it’s a little extreme and they probably won’t cut him over this but I think any possible decision between keeping Thurmond or Browner has been made easier, although I guess Browner has been suspended as well. I agree it’s most important that we have players who want to win but we need to make sure that we don’t let this problem grow. If they treally want to play mean, play hard and win then why are they making decisions that mean they can’t do that? That’s a question the players need to answer for themselves.

        • Austin says:

          I agree with Carl for the most part. Some problems just can’t be solved, and when you try to solve them the wrong way, then new problems will arise. I’m sure the organization is handling this the right way. I think our record reflects how well these types of problems are handled.

  3. Vin says:

    Well this plain sucks. Although I wasn’t too worried with browner being down because I actually see him as a liability with all the PI and holding calls that always seem to follow, the loss of Thurmond really hurts, especially with the saints coming to town. Could not have come at a worse time. Thankfully there is solid depth with maxwell & lane, but Brees’ job got a bit easier. Hopefully the front 7 and 12th man can apply enough pressure to negate the loss of Thurmond. As always, thanks Rob and keep up the great work. Go Hawks!

  4. Michael M. says:

    Don’t really understand the timing here.

    If I were the ‘Hawks I would be pushing the appeal out as long as I could in an effort to have WT3 on the field for the Saints. If he starts the suspension the following week he would still be back just in time for the post season.

    Does the bye week count as one of the weeks of the suspension?

  5. Miles says:

    Right when you think everything is heading in the right direction, one of your guys does something ridiculous. What an idiot.

  6. Christon says:

    I’m still not sure if Browner is comming back next year but it’s getting hard to trust some of these guys that we were hopeing could step in for him. Dumb. Maybe corner will be another mid round possibility next draft?

    • Bryan C says:

      Corner is always a draft possibility with this team because of their ability to teach and coach the position. Browner could be back, especially if he lights it up in the post season.

  7. MJ says:

    To me this makes the offseason a little easier…ba bye Walter. Not only have you been terribly unreliable staying healthy, but now you are unreliable on a personal level.

    This is getting embarrassing and I think PC needs to make an example of Thurmond. He’s (WTIII) now officially announced that he’s more important than the team by pulling some amateur crap. And itnsounds like it was weed, which IMO makes it worse because it just shows how stupid he is, which being an Oregon Duck is not all surprising.

    That rant aside, we can overcome this. I’ve actually been a bigger Maxwell fan because he’s so physical.

  8. Coug1990 says:

    I am not for a zero tolerance policy. They do not work well. Our country has a zero tolerance penalty called Capital Punishment and people still murder other people. You take each person on a case by case basis. This is disappointing and selfish. But, lets not overreact.

    • MJ says:

      While I somewhat agree, for this penalty on Thurmond to be what it is at now, implies he has already failed previous drug tests (with no previous penalty).

      I do agree that Zero Tolerance doesn’t eliminate issues, but I do think it has value, and in this case (assuming it’s a recreational drug thing), Thurmond directly put him and his “recreation” above the team, at a time when they were already hurting at CB.

      We are 10-1 and on the verge of something great, and we have a guy (who is finally contributing after his team showed tremendous patience) decide to give the finger to the rest of the team. That’s my issue. It’s not just the mistake, but the timing of it. IMO, it’s tantamount to your kid in college who gets arrested at a college party during finals week. You know he is out drinking and being a college kid, but you thought he’d place more importance on finals and what “grades” mean to him. Probably a stupid analogy, but timing is the thing that bothers me most (and the fact he’s about to be FA).

  9. Random says:

    So if Russell Wilson got busted for PED you guys would cut him too? C’mon.

    • kevin mullen says:

      According to guys above, yes. Yes they should.

      It now becomes a bargaining chip for JS, his value is diluted because of this and allows CB position to be pushed to the first page of depth needs in JS book of scouting. Whether Thurmond/Browner gets resigned is one issue but possibly loosing both next year has to be a cause for concern. Lane/Maxwell/Snead haven’t cracked the starting lineup and have played sparingly, with Lane getting the most reps of three, not sure if any of these three can start opposite of Sherman and have the same impact as BB/Thurmond.

    • Nathan says:

      I guess I was a little over the top about the zero tolerance policy, I was seriously annoyed, but I do think that we need to sort this problem out. They said after the last few incidents that they had solved this but it looks like more needs to be done.

  10. kevin mullen says:

    And now the cornerback position starts to creep up as a priority for the offseason…

  11. CC says:

    Did anyone see Shead in preseason or in training camp? He’s been getting game checks, so I’m wondering what kind of player he is as we may be light on the DB side now. Thanks

  12. Cysco says:

    So who exactly is next man up?

  13. Aaron says:

    I don’t disagree with all the criticism of Thurmond and by extension the Seahawks organization. I’m just so relieved to learn it wasn’t another “adderall” suspension. If that had occurred, there would be rampant talk of an asterisk attached to this team. They need to get this cleaned up, but thank god it wasn’t another performance enhancement suspension.

    Has anyone heard any reports of what substance we’re talking about here?

    • Nate says:

      From what I’ve heard, reports have been saying marijuana.

      • SunPathPaul says:

        I hate this crap, but it is a bummer that marijuana is ‘totally legal’ in Washington state, yet the NFL can suspend a player that lives there for it…total crap

        • Miles says:

          Well its still federally illegal, so any workplace (including in Washington) can categorize marijuana against its code of conduct.

          • Miles says:

            Also whether it is PED-related or not, this will still add to our reputation of being the drug-abuser team and the PED team. Because of WTIII, we have become vulnerable to this “Sea-adderall” bashing once more.

            • CD says:

              I am not sure if it being federally illegal has anything to do with it as alcohol is legal but is against probably 99.9% of all company codes of conduct.

              It usually comes down to employee safety. They don’t want drunk people or stoned people to create a H&S risk for sober employees.

              It was our insurance premium that drove our company to have a drug and alcohol policy with randon checks. If you had a policy and could prove it, your premium was lower than if you didn’t.

              Also, I am glad I don’t worry about sea-adderall basking. Those doing the bashing are just looking for reasons to bash, if not for this they would be bitching about Pete at USC, or Sherman and his mouth, or Lynch running over someone in Buffalo…who cares, they will always find something to bash and every team has some of these issues, including the 49ers (Smith, Aldon).

              • Miles says:

                Most companies don’t test for alcohol use. Marijuana is still a whole other issue in this country.

                • Frank says:

                  I think you’re a little confused, I work a corprate job that drug tests, but weed is no big deal at all. Company’s are all switching to oral swab test to target Meth and alcohol and stop targeting weed.

  14. James says:

    Shame. Shame on Thurmond. Shame on the CBs (see Browner and Sherman). Shame on Pete and Kris Richard and everyone who should have done more to FORCE honesty from their players….and yes, force is the right word, for other teams have found ways to successfully force their players to follow the rules. Shame on John Schneider for populating the team with too many abusers, and not enough leaders. Paul Allen, I guess, will have to step in and impose consequences so severe that this shame comes to a stop. That is, unless no one cares as long as we are winning. After all, this is just part of modern life…that drug use is devouring our nation, but if so, why are other teams not having this problem to this degree? I love the Seahaws, but this is absurd and cannot continue. Test everyone every day, if that is what it takes to put a stop to this.

  15. Jeremy says:

    This hurts now, but will it come contract time? This may be a good thing next year for the Hawks. I felt like him getting healthy on a contract year was bad timing for the Hawks. Yes, he made a huge mistake, but I don’t want to see him walk. He may come cheaper now because of this, and because of his injury history. Just saying…

    And can anybody tell me what is going on with Tharold Simon??? Injury reserve, practice squad?? He seems to have disappeared.

    • David says:

      Pete said last week in the wake of browner going down that Simon would start practicing Monday (tomorrow) while this worries me a little i do not find myself overly concerned. Pete and the coaches know how to scheme, I know this is gonna sound ridiculous because its been said before but open playing time gave Sherman his name, i can see either Maxwell stepping in or Lane, maybe even Shead or Simon. i saw Jason LaConfora report that he wouldn’t be surprised if the Hawks went back to Winfield. We’ll see though, im excited to see what happens, I love seeing the young guns step up.

      Now im not saying Thurmond should be totally forgiven and its not bad, but i see it as an opportunity for the other players to step up, Thurmond i know will be welcomed back by me, hes a hell of a player. and if im correct he will be back for week 17 right?. so heres hoping for the young-ins to step up.

      GO HAWKS

    • CD says:

      Sure he will be cheaper, because the next slip up will mean he will be out for 1 year. Do you really want to have a, somewhat unproven starter on a team that is 1 strike away (already has 4 strikes) from a 1 year suspension?

      Probably a doable risk if he was a back-up, but too much of a risk if you expect him to be a starter even if he comes cheap.

  16. Colin says:

    He got busted for smoking dope. More than half this league would be out if they tested everybody. Move on and move forward.

  17. Sean says:

    I hate reading comments on here claiming they know the details of WT3′s violation. I also don’t have a full understanding of the NFL drug policy as it relates to offenses that lead to suspensions. However, I did come across this article.

    http://msn.foxsports.com/lacesout/mcafeeculture-a-deeper-look-into-the-nfls-substance-abuse-program/

    Everyone seems to think he has been spending the off days smoking weed. We don’t know if he failed a drug test or if he failed to comply with the NFL’s rigid substance abuse program. So before we start calling WT3 selfish, stupid, irresponsible, get all the facts. And if he made a mistake, get past it and support him to do better next time.

    This team is too good to let this hold us back. Have faith.

  18. kigenzun says:

    so… WTIII is busted suddenly, and now on the 4 game suspension list… yet Aldon Smith and Dwayne Bowe are starting games and playing key roles for their respective teams??? I guess I just don’t understand what the league’s ‘performance enhancing’ drug (&alcohol) policies are at all.

    • Attyla the Hawk says:

      http://images.nflplayers.com/mediaResources/files/PDFs/PlayerDevelopment/2010%20Drug%20Policy.pdf

      The pertinent pages are 14-22.

      WT3 was a stage 2 participant. Meaning he had to have already failed a test and passed stage 1 onto stage 2. The 4 game ban is standard for stage 2 participants who fail their first test. His duration in stage 2 is reset to a duration of 24 months from this latest positive test. If he can manage to stay clean for 24 months, he’s removed from the program entirely. His first reoffense afterwards entering him as a stage 1 participant as if he’s never been in the program before.

      The next failure to comply will incur a 6 game suspension followed by entrance into stage 3 (like Von Miller). Once in stage 3, you remain there for life. Any subsequent ban is at minimum a 12 month ban — after which a player has to apply for reinstatement.

      The difference in the Aldon Smith v. WT3 situation, is that Smith was not a previous offender. There is no ban for that. Thurmond had offended in the last 90 to 180 days prior to his failure to comply that earned him his 4 game ban. So he’s been around the block on this aspect before.

      The concept is simple. You get a freebie positive test. After which, you are on a 24 month probation period. If you can manage to not offend in that span, you are eliminated from the program as if you never offended. It’s designed to really manage chronic addicts. It’s stupid easy to get clear of suspensions if you just had a singular moment of stupidity.

      He’s one more test from being entered into stage 3. That’s serious business as there is no getting out from under that. You remain there for life and the punishments are severe.

  19. Phil says:

    Whenever I see behavior that I just can’t understand, I remind myself that for every individual with an IQ of 130, there’s someone out there with an IQ of 70 (OK, there could be 2 people with IQs of 85). My point is that with all the discussions we have about some player’s height, weight, 40-yd. time, bench press reps, etc., we often overlook their intelligence and/or maturity, or lack thereof. Life is all about choices — if you don’t have the smarts to make smart choices, you often pay the price in our society. The NFL is no different.

    I’m not saying that Sherman, or Browner, or Thurmond are stupid, I’m just suggesting that a player’s intelligence and maturity don’t seem to get the same attention that his other measurables get. With the number of PED violations that the Seahawks have been hit with, maybe it’s time for JS/PC to put more emphasis on assessing intelligence and maturity when they decide who to draft or sign.

    • Bryan C says:

      Intelligence has absolutely nothing to do with wisdom. You give a young 20 something man a relatively large salary after years of him not needing to follow rules because of his ability to play football and expect him to be the shining personal example Russell Wilson is? That isn’t realistic. You also cannot test maturity.

      Maturity takes a long time for some. I am in no way defending WTIII and in fact I think it is beyond ridiculous what he did. That being said, he hurt only himself, perhaps his team but no one is injured or dead. Thurmond will possibly be replaced next year after someone else comes in and shows better than him in the remainder of the season. As someone else said, without opportunity, we never would have had Sherman. Maybe Tharold Simon or DeShawn Shead comes in and takes away both Browner and WTIII’s job.

      • Phil says:

        No, I don’t expect everyone to be the shining example RW is. But, I do expect an NFL player to know that he’s going to be drug tested and that it’s likely that he will be caught if he’s using a PED. If his actions hurt only himself, I’m OK with that, but I don’t think that is the case.

        “You also cannot test maturity.” Maybe there isn’t a “test”, but it’s relatively easy (IMHO) to assess it. To take an obvious example, look at Johnnie Football. Does he pass a “maturity” assessment? Would you be willing to bet a high draft choice on a gamble that he’s going to make the right choices once he’s signed?

        • Bryan C says:

          No, I wouldn’t draft Manziel, but not because of a lack of maturity. I don’t see him translating well to the NFL. I might be wrong.

          There were no PED’s involved for Thurmond and if there was his suspension would be different as it would be under the PED portions of the NFL policy not for “non-PED substance abuse.” I also agree that Thurmond is not the sharpest tool in the shed. Thurmond had to test positive 2 times this year to be suspended.

          All players are tested once a year during a three-month window that opens around minicamp and closes with the training camp physical. Sometime between May 1 and Aug. 1, players know they are going to have to pee in a bottle and their urine will be tested for cocaine, marijuana or other recreational drugs. Once a player passes his annual test, he is free and clear for at least the next nine months until the test the following year or if there is reasonable cause to believe he has a drug problem.
          Based on what occurred, Thurmond was positive during training camp, which results in enrolment in the substance abuse group and means even more testing, counseling and treatment. So, then Thurmond was tested frequently and lo and behold he came up positive in another test with a 4 game suspension as a result.

      • MJ says:

        So I get the “point” on both sides of the equation, but here’s what it boils down to (for me)…

        A grown man, knowing full well the consequences of his actions, continued this “action” and has now jeopardized his team as a result of it. If I was to do something illegal and against corporate policy at my work, that jeopardized a big contract (playoffs/SB), I’d be immediately terminated. Would anybody feel bad for me or would they say, “look you moron, you knew you were doing something wrong and you continued to do it.”

        At what point do we keep excusing “immaturity”? There are 18 year olds fighting wars over seas and working full time to make ends meet, but we continue to excuse “maturity” in the NFL and other pro sports for some odd reason. I hate to run off on a tangent here, but there’s an epidemic in this society (epitomized in pro sports), that people in their mid 20s are “young men” and need time to “mature.” If this is the case, then the drinking/smoking/voting/driving age should be 30 if it’s so hard to make decent decisions.

        And last thing, nobody is asking for everyone to be Russell Wilson, but how hard is it to follow rules at the most important part of the year, especially after you’ve already been in trouble for the same activity? There is a middle ground in this. Nobody is telling him to walk on water or visit the Children’s Hospital; just don’t do drugs and follow the rules! It’s not hard. I’ve gone 30 years without getting a DUI or arrested because quite frankly, I know explicitly what I can and can’t do, and act accordingly.

        I’m not here to condemn WTIII, but unforunately, he serves as a reminder as to how dumb/irresponsible/above the law some of these guys can act. I don’t think WTIII is a bad guy, but he is clearly shown that he is selfish and pretty stupid.

        • Miles says:

          All the points you’re making are very valid and applicable to this situation. I would just say that there is another side to this; A side that demands players forego normal lives at an early age and be a kind of “perfect citizen.” Whereas I could go to high school and live a somewhat edgy life, and experiment with drugs and alcohol to my heart’s content, many players never get that opportunity. Is it fair? I would say no. On the other hand it is very disheartening that Thurmond did this, but I can still say that football players are held to a high standard that disallows them from focusing on ACTUAL important things in life like going to school and having a social life and meeting like-minded people. I don’t think there’s one right answer here, but I think there are many valid ways to look at it.

          WTIII should be held accountable, because he is an adult and should know his actions have repercussions. But in order to get guys like Thurmond to avoid such situations, it’s important to understand the imbalanced standards football players have been held to and to sympathize with them. It’s impossible to fix a problem unless we know what the source of the problem is. The source is not Thurmond or Aldon Smith or anyone like that, but an unreasonable sports culture that demands perfection.

          • MJ says:

            Excellent little write up and you bring up a very good point regarding expectations with star athletes. I do think they are held to a somewhat unfair standard and shouldn’t be crucified for mistakes (though admittedly I’ve been harsh on WTIII).

            My honest advice to many of these guys in the social world, it’s not a terrible thing to just blend in until your career is over. I know it must be hard fighting the temptation they see with money, women, alcohol, etc, but at the same time, they’ve been blessed to make a lot of money playing a sport (yes they pay the price for it physically).

            I think what we are both really talking about is how to control human nature and the simple answer is you can’t. I hope the Seahawks do a better job of putting an infrastructure in place that gives guys second chances, but ultimately teaches a lesson and alters behavior like this. Ultimately, these guys are human and no matter the rules/restrictions in place, people will inevitably make mistakes. I just hope WTIII learns from this.

            I appreciate the dialogue!

  20. uh-oh says:

    Overreaction to another bump in the road called life. This is not a big deal, but go ahead and stress out.

  21. EranUngar says:

    A few points -

    1. WT suspension is a non PED suspension. Unlike PED, the NFL suspends a player on non PED substances only on his 3rd strike. So, he got caught once, had to submit to increased testings, counselling etc. then got caught again and this is his 3rd strike. It’s not like he got caught after sharing a joint in a party. He knew he was being very closely monitored and still got his 3rd strike.

    2. His suspension is due to him dropping his appeal so it’s not breaking news for FO. It’s a decision that was taken in full knowledge of PC, JS etc. They and WT knew of it for some time.

    3. With Browner injured and assuming they want WT for the offseason wouldn’t it make more sense to drop the appeal after the NO game? the strongest passing team we met all year is coming to play for home court advantage and we face them minus CB 2 and 3? why not spend it on the last 4 games of the year?

    • CHawk Talker Eric says:

      In light of the first 2 points, the third is most curious indeed. At the very least, PC must think (a) Maxwell, Shead, Simon (?) are ready to step up, and (b) they’d rather have WT3 available for the post season. But why not wait until Week 14 vs. SF to start the suspension? Wouldn’t you rather have him play vs. NO in Week 13 than vs. STL in Week 17?

      • EranUngar says:

        my exact thoughts. Play the NO game and miss the STL game. strange choice.

        • Miles says:

          I think the decision is more based on principal than preference of games missed. Let’s be honest; it’d look pretty bad if Carroll convinced Thurmond to appeal just so he would be available for an important game.

          At this point, the Seahawks are in damage control. They’d rather have Thurmond serve the suspension promptly and appear regretful than bend the rules to our advantage. The Seahawks don’t want to be the rule-breaking team that wants to win regardless of justice or morality.

  22. Cameron says:

    Now it is being reported by the NFL that Brandon Browner is facing another suspension…

  23. Stuart says:

    We have all done stupid things when we were younger. But if it’s true that WTIII had failed two previous tests and knew that one more would result in a four game suspension, really Walter, really?

    With his injury history and now this, goodbye Walter. I am as much of a Seahawk Homer as any man alive and I have also smoked pot for years on and off. When you have your dream job and they drug test, you don’t do drugs, DUH!

    What kind of pot is worth millions of dollars to smoke?