Seattle Seahawks starting cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner are facing a four game suspension for a violation in the leagues policy regarding performance enhancing drugs. The two of them have played a large roll in the Seahawks tough pass defense (ranked 3rd currently in the NFL) and have combined for seven interceptions. To add insult to injury the Seahawks are 6-5 and in a three-way tie for the final playoff spot. It is incidents like this that test public relations departments. Up in Seattle they are doing things right. There was a quick response on the matter and they announced an appeal which quickly addressed the issue, squashed rumors, and minimized distraction.
The issue of performance enhancing drugs in professional sports has been a topic of discussion for quite a while and is unlikely to go away anytime soon. It seems as baseball and cycling have drawn much of the attention but in the last year there has been an increase in positive tests from the NFL and one would imagine other sports will follow. Dealing with any kind of player related scandal is challenging for a public relations department, but it is one of their primary responsibilities to mediate crisis in the public forum. Honest and immediate reaction usually heads the best results but is sometimes difficult to produce amidst the chaos of an issue. Seattle responded appropriately and addressed the issue while also releasing and focusing on more positive news stories from their team. So even if Sherman and Browner’s wings are clipped, the rest of the organization is sure to soar (at least in the media).