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Patriots Brandon Browner plans to tell teammates to target Richard Sherman’s injured arm

Super Bowl XLIX had another log thrown on the fire of controversy as Patriots cornerback Brandon Browner tells ESPN he’s advising his teammates to “try to break” the elbow of Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman.

Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

In a violent game, threats of violence aren't allowed. No NFL rule strictly prohibits injuring a player, but mentioning it as a plan or a future action is forbidden.

Where Patriots cornerback Brandon Browner falls in the gray area between tough talk and premeditation is the latest issue the NFL will have to face in the days leading into Super Bowl XLIX - where little talk is being made of the game between the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots.

It's not about what he would do. It's about what he said he's telling his teammates to do, and it will be difficult for the league to ignore it.

Browner spoke candidly about the injured elbow of Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman - his former teammate in Seattle.

"But at the end of the day, this is about the Super Bowl," Browner said, according to ESPN's Josina Anderson. "I'm gonna tell my teammates, 'Go hit that elbow. Go hit that shoulder. Most definitely. Try to break it if you can.' You're gonna be my best friend after the game, but I know you want the Super Bowl just as bad as I do."

Despite his statement, his comments suggest there is another non-football news item on the horizon. Amid the DeflateGate story, Browner's comments conjure up memories of BountyGate, a scandal that implicated the New Orleans Saints' Super Bowl team of 2009 in a pay-to-injure bonus program that ultimately cost head coach Sean Payton a season on suspension and docked the Saints a first round draft pick.

Incidentally, the Patriots are the only other team during Roger Goodell's tenure as league commissioner to be docked a first round draft pick.

Browner signed with the Patriots as a free agent in 2014. He had played his entire NFL career with Seattle.

Baltimore Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs once suggested the Ravens had a bounty on Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward, a comment he would later withdraw with no announced punishment from the league. But at a time of heightened sensitivity, as well as a load of precedent created by the NFL in issuing punishment on the Saints, the league may have to flip its eyes from deflated footballs to the appearance of intent to injure Sherman.