Court of Appeals sides with NFL – Williams Wall may yet be suspended

Breaking news on the story that will never die: The Minnesota State Court of Appeals has sided with the NFL in the 2008 StarCaps case against Vikings’ defensive tackle Kevin Williams.

The other players that were impacted by the ruling were Pat Williams, Will Smith, Charles Grant and Grady Jackson. The latter two players are out of football and Pat Williams is a free agent. This means Kevin Williams and Smith could be on the reserve/suspended list for the first four games in 2011 (assuming there even is a season, that is).

StarCaps was a dietary supplement the players took that is banned under the league’s substance abuse policy. The supplement can be used as a masking agent for steroid use, which is obviously what the NFL was most concerned with. Of course, cough drops are probably banned under the league’s substance abuse policy, so what isn’t the NFL concerned with? (Not that I’m complaining about the league wanting to be drug-free.)

This has to be one of the most annoying stories in sports and here’s hoping that it finally has an ending. It would be nice if the league were just as motivated and relentless in its efforts to sign a new CBA deal as it is trying to suspend these four players.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

Williams Wall likely to avoid suspension again?

Back in 1874, the NFL suspended Vikings’ defensive tackles Pat Williams and Kevin Williams four games each for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. But with the help of a Minnesota state judge who apparently loves himself some Minnesota Vikings, the Williamseseseses appear likely to once again avoid their suspensions.

The Minnesota Star-Tribune shares new details of this never-ending story:

Judge Gary Larson recently ruled that the Williamses must serve their four-game suspensions after testing positive for a banned diuretic. But Larson granted the injunction Friday that will allow the Vikings to play during the appeals process.

This obviously is good news for the Vikings. Essentially, nothing has changed for the team because the Vikings will have their Pro Bowl defensive tackles while the legal process continues to play out.

The only question now is, how long will the appeals process take? Will it be resolved before the season or drag on for many more months?

Here’s the deal, their case would have to pass through both the Minnesota Court of Appeals and Minnesota Supreme Court before the two players served their suspensions. Judge Gary “the Viking” Larson knows that the process would probably take quite a while, so the chances of the Williams Wall playing this year are very high.

As I’ve written before, this is a tricky situation. If the U.S. Supreme Court overrules Larson’s decision, then it looks as if the NFL has more power than state courts. But if the U.S. Supreme Court doesn’t overrule the decision, then maybe more players will look for loopholes when they fail drug tests.

When I do posts about this story, I feel like I’m writing an episode of “The Dukes of Hazzard.” All right, in this scene, we’ll have the Williams boys get away from Roger Goodell. Then in the next scene, we’ll have Goodell almost catch them, but then they get away again. We’ll do this over and over and over again until the end of the show. Cool?

Photo from fOTOGLIF

NFL not giving up on Williams Wall suspension

Despite Hennepin County District Judge Gary Larson’s ruling that the league failed to abide to state law in notifying Vikings’ defensive tackles Pat Williams and Kevin Williams of their positive drug test, the NFL is not giving in.

According to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, the NFL is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Larson’s ruling so that the league can suspend the two players four games for violating its anti-drug policy.

The NFL cited the National Labor Relations Act in its filing on Thursday, saying its collective bargaining agreement with the players’ union protects its drug policy from lawsuits in state courts.

The Williamses tested positive in 2008 for a banned diuretic, bumetanide, that was not listed as an ingredient on the label for the weight-loss supplement StarCaps. The diuretic is not a steroid, but the league said it can be used as a masking agent for performance-enhancing drugs and therefore is not allowed.

The players sued to block their suspensions, saying the NFL broke Minnesota labor law in applying its drug policy. The NFL wants the Supreme Court to overturn a federal judge’s decision last year that sent the case to state court.

This is a tricky situation. If the U.S. Supreme Court overrules Larson’s decision, then it looks as if the NFL has more power than state courts. But if the U.S. Supreme Court doesn’t overrule the decision, then maybe more players will look for loopholes when they fail drug tests.

Many feel as though the NFL’s drug policy is extreme, but it’s in place to ensure that players don’t cheat the game. While I would wholeheartedly agree that it’s a bit absurd for the league to force players to notify teams when they’re about to use over-the-counter cough medicine (which is actually on the NFL’s banned list), those rules are in place in effort to keep the playing field as level as possible.

In the end, I don’t think the Williams Wall will ever be suspended. I can’t imagine that the U.S. Supreme Court would side with the NFL, but then again, crazier things have happened.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

Vikings to have Williams Wall for entire season

The U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that the case of Vikings’ defensive tackles Kevin Williams and Pat Williams will stay in Minnesota state court and thus, the two players will be allowed to play the entire season.

From the Minneapolis Star-Tribune:

Judge Bobby Shepherd wrote the highly detailed 34-page decision for the panel that also included Judges Duane Benton and Diana Murphy. The decision essentially allows the Williams to play while keeping the remains of the case in Hennepin County District Court where Judge Gary Larson already has said he likely wouldn’t force the Vikings defensive tackles into a civil trial during the coming season. He stayed action in his courtroom until the federal court determined whether it has jurisdiction over some of the claims.

While the parties could ask the U.S. Supreme Court to take the case, the court does not have to hear it. The Williamses were suspended for taking the banned substance bumetanide. They filed a lawsuit in state court contending that the NFL’s drug-testing procedures violate Minnesota workplace laws, and they asked that a judge void their suspensions. Then the NFL Players Association sued in U.S. District Court on their behalf.

This news is obviously huge for the Vikings, who are a completely different team when they don’t have their two run-stuffers in the middle of their defensive line. Minnesota can expect opponents trying to beat them through the air again this year.

Minnesota judge says Williams Wall can play

A Minnesota judge has ruled that Vikings defensive tackles Kevin Williams and Pat Williams, who were appealing four game suspensions for violating the NFL’s policy on anabolic steroids, can play the entire season according to a report by the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

Per the report, the only way this ruling won’t be upheld is if a federal court claims jurisdiction over the Williams Wall’s lawsuit, challenging the NFL’s drug-testing procedures.

(District Court Judge Gary) Larson stayed action in his courtroom until the U.S. District Court determines whether it has jurisdiction on some of the players’ claims. U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson said the court does not, but a federal three-judge panel is hearing an appeal of his ruling in St. Paul on Aug. 18.

If the federal court determines the case should be conducted in state court, Larson wrote, “it is not likely that the [Hennepin County] court would, or could force [the players] into trial during the middle of a playing season, based on the court’s schedule.”

This is obviously huge for the Vikings, who have the best run defense in the NFL with the Williams Wall intact. If Minnesota hopes to build upon the success it had last year, than it’ll need their stud defensive tackles manning the interior of its defensive line all season.

I wonder what this means for Saints defensive ends Will Smith and Charles Grant, who, like the Williams Wall, were given four-game suspensions as well. I’m assuming that since the Williams Wall will be able to play, so will Smith and Grant.

This is the never-ending saga.

Related Posts