Cornerback Brandon Browner was reinstated from his indefinite suspension by the NFL on Tuesday, resolving the conflict before it made its way into the legal system. Browner announced the news on Twitter:
I received wonderful news today. The NFL has reinstated me, and I now have the opportunity to prove to the fans and my teammates how important this sport is to me. I realize now more than ever that being part of the NFL is not a right, but a privilege. I am grateful that Commissioner Goodell and my agent were able to resolve this issue in a positive, productive manner so I can continue my career, provide for my family, and help my team win a Super Bowl. Thank you to all who have gone out of their way to show their support. I will live up to your expectations of me.
Browner was expected to file a lawsuit against the NFL in federal court this week, according to ESPN. He was suspended in December for violating the league's substance-abuse policy, and went on to miss the remaining two regular season games and the playoffs for the Seattle Seahawks.
Browner didn't dispute the positive test. Instead, he and his agent were planning to challenge the suspension because he was playing in the Canadian Football league, not the NFL, when he failed to report for mandated testing. As a result, Browner argued, he should not have been elevated to Stage 3 of the league's testing program and put within "one strike" of an indefinite suspension.
SB Nation NFL
SB Nation NFL
The NFL initially held strong in its stance, denying Browner's appeal. Something apparently changed in the months since, however, with the threat of a lawsuit possibly playing a significant role in the NFL's decision to lift the suspension.
Browner will now become an unrestricted free agent on March 11. Had the suspension remained in place, Browner's agent said the lawsuit would have been filed to seek financial damages resulting from Browner's inability to become a free agent. Before suspending him indefinitely, the NFL reportedly offered Browner a reduced nine-month suspension, but Browner held his ground. That decision ultimately proved wise for the 29-year-old cornerback.