Vikings nose tackle Pat Williams said he is not going to return to the Vikings, although he wants to…
NFL wins a ruling in StarCaps case
In its ruling Tuesday, the Minnesota Court of Appeals declined to block the NFL's four-game suspensions of Pat Williams and Kevin Williams, which dates back to the start of training camp in July 2008. Both tested positive for a banned substance (bumetanide) contained in the weight-loss supplement StarCaps. In the two-and-half years since, the matter has been embroiled in a legal debate between the league, it's testing policies and state drug-testing laws.
The failed tests in 2008 resulted in the NFL announcing that both of the Williamses would serve four-game suspensions, as well as members of the New Orleans Saints that also tested positive for bumetanide as a result of taking StarCaps, which didn't list the banned substance as one of its ingredients in its packaging.
What has followed is a two-and-a-half year odyssey that has seen both the NFL and the Williamses score legal victories. The initial federal case was a slam-dunk for the NFL, but one claim made by the Williamses attorneys (not by members of the Saints) was that the NFL's testing policy violated Minnesota Drug Testing In the Workplace legislation. Only that portion of the case remained unresolved, as the federal court remanded that question to the state court system. From that point on, the NFL has been forbidden from imposing the suspensions. The case had made its way through the court system, but the one consistent has been that the NFL has been unable to actually exert its force to make the Williamses miss games.
Tuesday's decision changed that. In its ruling, the court ruled stated that, because bumetanide doesn't fall under the state's workplace drug-testing procedures, the worker-notification requirements don't give the state courts the foundation for preventing punishment by the employer (the NFL).
The ruling of the three-judge panel didn't give the NFL a free pass in its ruling, pointing in strong legal terms that drug testing laws in Minnesota, especially if they deal with anabolic steroids, will need to subscribe to Minnesota law, saying in the opinion of Judge Francis Connolly, "Importantly, our holding is limited to specific facts of this case and should not be read to excuse the NFL from complying with (Minnesota workplace law) when applicable."
In other words, if the Williamses had tested positive for a drug covered under the workplace laws, the NFL would have been required to notify them within three days.
While a blow to the case for the Williams Wall, it is likely that the case will be appealed to the Minnesota Supreme Court – which will, in the short-term, likely create a stay of execution once again on the league-imposed suspension.
The wild card in the situation could be the collective bargaining agreement. If it expires March 3, there could be a legal loophole around punishment dealing with an expired work agreement.
This may have replaced the Brett Favre "will he-won't he" retirement question as the longest-running saga in the current lore of Vikings history. Stay tuned.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.
VikingUpdate.com Recommended Stories
Bridgewater accepts blame for rough game
Teddy Bridgewater took on blame for the Lions game, saying he needed to get the ball out quicker the “majority” of times he took a sack.Read More
Elite QB run over, but Vikings respect Orton
After facing some of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, the Vikings get Kyle Orton this week. That might sound like a break, but Vikings defenders aren’t celebrating yet.Read More
Greenway working his way back
The Vikings got some encouraging injury news Wednesday, as Chad Greenway practiced fully on a Wednesday for the first time since Sept. 10.Read More
Peyton Manning Breaks All-Time TD Record
Peyton Manning emerged alone atop yet another category in the NFL record book tonight vs the Niners, as he tossed touchdown #509 under the national spotlight of Sunday Night Football (NBC). (Photo…Read More
LenDale White escorted out of the Coliseum
Former USC and NFL running back LenDale White added tons of drama to what was a relatively quiet Homecoming weekend for the Trojans.Read More