Agent outlines suspensions, injunctions

The agent for Pat Williams laid out the next step for at least his client, and talked about why he believes his other client involved in the StarCaps saga, Grady Jackson, wasn't immediately suspended while Williams was. Plus, the NFL further explained the procedures and its reaction to potential lawsuits.

Vikings defensive tackles Pat Williams and Kevin Williams had their four-game suspensions upheld by the NFL on Tuesday after testing positive for Bumetanide, a substance that is among those banned under the league's policy on anabolic steroids and related substances.

Atlanta Falcons defensive tackle Grady Jackson was suspended for four games as well, but he wasn't among the six players whose suspensions were upheld Tuesday. Why did six get suspended and one not?

The Atlanta Falcons released a statement that said a decision on Jackson's appeal was being deferred, pending additional information. But Angelo Wright is the agent for both Pat Williams and Grady Jackson and said he felt the league made a distinction between the players taking the weight-loss pills because of weight clauses in their contracts.

"I think to some degree, just the testimony and the contracts are different. Grady's contract is different than Pat's and Kevin's in terms of language and so forth. Basically, Grady has no weight clauses and there is nothing monetary tied to any weight clauses or anything," Wright said.

Asked if that would matter to the NFL, Wright, who attended the appeals for both Pat Williams and Jackson, said he believed the NFL looked at the intent.

"It's whatever is in your contract. What's the intent? Probably they are looking at what's the intent of you losing weight. Are you losing it to make weight to make money or because you had a clause in your contract?" Wright said. "If you don't have a weight clause and you don't have anything in your contract, then what's your incentive for taking them?"

That subject was broached in a conference call with Adolpho Birch, NFL vice president of law and labor policy, on Tuesday.

"Speaking more generally, some clubs have weight clauses and those clauses often provide for significant bonuses or other compensation with respect to different weight allowances that they have," Birch said. "But fairly uniformly, all of them have conditions as to how that weight is achieved. The majority certainly spell out that things such as last-minute tactics like steam room use or things like the use of diuretics are not permitted in order to do that."

According to Wright, Jackson had been taking StarCaps for five years and had a list of the doctor-prescribed medicines he had been taking, along with the list of the multiple doctors whose care he had been under – between a doctor in Green Bay, his personal doctor and the Falcons' team doctor. Jackson played for the Packers from 2003-05.

"He had a number of supplements he was taking," Wright said of Jackson. "… He really walked them through (during the appeals process). He came across very knowledgeable as to what he put in his body. I think that was the distinction, if you want to look at what distinguished him from that. The testimony, it just came across like, ‘Hey, this guy is just doing what he needs to keep his body right.'"

"His testimony was so sterling and he knew everything, pretty much what was going in his body," Wright added.

Wright also echoed the thoughts of many observers who don't believe most of the players taking the weight-loss pills were doing so in an attempt to mask the use of steroids.

"Look at all of their bodies. None of those guys are steroid users," he said. "That was the first point. Second, was there any incentive for you to take a diuretic? And then thirdly, when you look at StarCaps, it's not just strictly diuretics. There are some other supposedly redeemable qualities in the product. I think those all played a role in his case."

Wright said he would be working with a lawyer to prepare papers Tuesday evening.

Birch said the NFL would address any lawsuits against the league if and when they are filed.

"We don't think that that would have any merit to it, but they certainly are free to file whatever they choose," Birch said.

Wright was hoping something would be filed either Tuesday night or Wednesday to allow the suspended players to be on the field this weekend.

Wright said he is "very confident" that Pat Williams will be playing against Detroit this weekend.

"I've maintained the whole time that they'd keep playing," he said.

"We've anticipated having a strategy from Day One if we won or if we didn't win, so I'm not worried about it. Anything from this point on would be in the hands of the attornies. Had this not been leaked publicly, I think it could have been worked out because I think it's clear that steroid use or masking wasn't an intent of my clients," Wright said.

If the players do get a temporary injunction but the suspensions are eventually upheld before or during the playoffs, the four-game suspensions would then be administered in playoff games if those apply to the individual players.

Birch said the NFL, under certain conditions, might make an effort to help with any lawsuits that might be filed on behalf of a player against a manufacturer.

"We do and we have in the past advised players that if they are able to determine that there is a problem with the product they took, they should seek the remedies against the one that they took that resulted in that positive," Birch said. "To the extent that they do that and to the extent that it comports with our policy and does not have any implications with our policy that would be inappropriate, I'm sure that we would make an effort to assist in that case."

NFL drug testing is generally performed around training camp and then randomly followed up shortly thereafter if there is a positive test, and the two samples are compared for continuity.

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