The suit filed in federal court Thursday morning not only involves Vikings defensive tackles Pat Williams and Kevin Williams, but also three Saints players – defensive linemen Charles Grant and Will Smith and running back Deuce McAllister.
The importance to the Vikings of having the suspensions delayed or reversed is two-fold. First, the Vikings have a brutal final three games against division leaders Arizona and New York and current wild card Atlanta. The Saints play Chicago, which remains only one game behind the Vikings, a week from today on Thursday Night Football. Having the Saints at full strength can only help the Vikings' chances of making the postseason, since they could pose a legitimate threat to the Bears at Soldier Field if they have Smith and Grant on their defensive front.
Pat and Kevin Williams were given a reprieve Wednesday from Hennepin County District Court, where Judge Gary Larson granted a temporary restraining order. This latest suit was filed on behalf of the players by the NFL Players Association and is in federal court. Almost immediately after Judge Larson ruled in favor of the Williams Boys, the NFL almost immediately responded that the matter should be transferred to U.S. District Court, presumably with Judge David Doty, who has overseen NFL court cases for years, dating back to the lawsuit filed against the league by the USFL and subsequently the ruling that opened the NFL to free agency. However, word this morning claimed that Doty may not hear the case and that it might be moved to Judge Patrick Schiltz in St. Paul.
The players are expected to be able to resume practicing while the appeal is being heard, which could be good news or bad news for the Vikings. If the appeal is denied within the next couple of weeks, the suspensions would still be enforced – except now the four-game suspension would stretch into the playoffs. However, it is believed that such proceedings could potentially drag on for months, which would delay any possible suspensions until after the season.
VU will keep you updated, as this situation remains fluid and changes can come quite quickly.