Weight-loss pills not new for Vikings

A report that the Vikings' defensive tackle tandem of Kevin Williams and Pat Williams could be suspended sent a shockwave through the fan base. But players taking weight-loss pills is nothing new, as the Byron Chamberlain incident illustrated four years ago.

The inclusion of the names of Pat Williams and Kevin Williams on the list of players who are reportedly being suspected of taking water pills to cut weight before the start of training camp has been the talk of sports fans for the last 24 hours. But it isn't the first time that such a weight-loss supplement has cost the Vikings a player.

In 2003, Vikings tight end Byron Chamberlain, who had been chastised by then-head coach Mike Tice to lose weight or face being released, decided to take a short cut with supplements available at any drug or health food store. The problem in his case was the supplement he used to cut the weight contained the drug Ephedra, which following the death of Korey Stringer was added to the league's list of banned substances.

In his case, Chamberlain was suspended the first four games of the 2003 season, but when his suspension was up, the Vikings opted to release him and be done with the matter. It's clear the team isn't going to cut either column of the Williams Wall, but the question remains as to what level of culpability the players have with respect to taking water pills.

This is a story that is likely going to hang over the heads of the Vikings until it is resolved. Many of the reports coming out are being done in a similar fashion to the scatter-gun Brett Favre revelations from late July and early August of this year. Some proved to be true. Many more proved to be inaccurate.

Considering the cloak-and-dagger nature of the NFL's treatment of its drug policy – no information is openly shared with the media under any circumstances – one has to wonder how this information initially became available and whether the accuracy of those being thrown under the net of suspicion is accurate – aside from Pat and Kevin Williams, several members of the New Orleans Saints have also been part of the accusation ring.

Due to the anonymous nature of the league's suspension policy (remember how long it took for Onterrio Smith to get suspended for his clear-cut Whizzinator violation?), it is unclear as to whether the appeal process has already begun or whether the wheels are in motion to get something finalized now. Early reports say that the players were supposed to have their chance to appeal their suspensions last week, but, because the Vikings were on their bye week, that has been pushed back to this week. However, in light of the secrecy the NFL maintains with its drug policy, nothing is assured when it comes to matters such as this.

Either way, this isn't good news for the Vikings. But it isn't exactly new ground the players being accused are breaking. Players have taken supplements to drop off-season weight gains before. It's just that nobody as big time as the Williamses have ever been caught in one of those nets.

MONDAY NOTES

  • Jaguars wide receiver Matt Jones is currently appealing a three-game suspension from the league, which puts the inconsistencies in the policy into a brighter light. The Williamses are both facing a potential four-game suspension for taking a banned substance that is legal and available over the counter to average citizens. Jones was caught by police chopping cocaine with a credit card this summer. Which one should carry the stiffer penalty? You can decide that one for yourself.

  • Dolphins owner Wayne Huizenga all but gave his endorsement of Senator John McCain for president over the weekend. Huizenga, who is looking to sell as much as 45 percent of his ownership in the Dolphins, said Sunday that the timetable for selling the portion of the franchise could be determined by next week's elections. He cited that Barack Obama has pledged to increase capitals gains takes, prompting Huizenga to say, "I'd rather give it to charity than to him." Move over, Al Davis. Just when you thought you had the market cornered on being the league's most quotable owner, a new contender has emerged.

  • Cullen Loeffler and the league's other long snappers got an unexpected boost in their own self-worth Sunday when the Steelers' long snapper Greg Warren was injured in the second half of Pittsburgh's 21-14 loss to the Giants. Leading 14-12 in the fourth quarter, backup long snapper James Harrison (a linebacker), snapped a hideous-looking ball over the head of punter Mitch Berger and out of the end zone. That tied the game 14-14 and the Giants got the winning points on a drive following the ensuing free kick. While long snappers typically aren't noticed, the injury to one of their own brought their value front and center Sunday.

  • Mike Singletary's debut with the 49ers wasn't all that special, but it did show that get-tough policy the Niners apparently are looking to instill. Not only did Singletary bench QB J.T. O'Sullivan midstream, he told tight end Vernon Davis to leave the field after an incident with former Viking safety Brian Russell Sunday.

  • Daunte Culpepper is scheduled to meet with the Kansas City Chiefs Tuesday.

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