Players union head vague on StarCaps issues

New NFL Players Association boss DeMaurice Smith visited with Vikings players and media on Tuesday, but he didn't get into specifics on the pending StarCaps case with Pat and Kevin Williams. Most questions were responded to with more questions.

New NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith is making his rounds through the league and, on Tuesday, he met with Vikings players.

As expected, when Smith was made available to the media, questions surfaced about the pending litigation between the league and Vikings defensive tackles Pat Williams and Kevin Williams. Their trial is slightly more than a month away – scheduled to begin June 15 – and Smith was asked about the status of the case.

Smith wasn't very forthcoming with his feelings on the case – one he inherited as the new NFLPA director from the late Gene Upshaw. When asked to speak in general terms about his stance on the StarCaps case, Smith, a lawyer by trade, said he wasn't interested in making those feelings public.

"That is just one of those questions where I just won't talk about it at all," Smith said. "It's pending litigation. As you know, much of the information is under seal. For right or for wrong, I never get too far away from thinking like a lawyer, so that's something that I just will not comment on, even generally, other than to agree with you that it is a case that is pending."

When asked if players have been asking about supplements in general or StarCaps in particular, Smith was equally hesitant to say too much, other than to answer the questions with other questions.

"I guess we are moving the StarCaps issue completely," Smith said. "Do we have conversations about my views on the enforcement policy as it relates to supplements, diuretics, and steroids? I am sure I have had at least a couple of questions on that. But we don't really talk about litigation - pending litigation issues – especially ones that are under seal.

"Do we have a lot of conversation where I talk about my and the players' preference for neutral arbitrators?" Smith added. "Are there times when I've expressed, or reflected my conversations with the NFL over both the number of fines and the increase in the severity of fines, even though by some statistics the actual incidents have decreased the amount of the fines have increased? Yeah, there is a great deal of discussion about that."

About the only question that Smith expressed a little candor with was in response to a question as to whether the NFLPA believes in strict-liability standards of drug testing or whether he believes the system needs to be re-examined. Even then, he provided more questions back than answers.

"I believe that we've got a pretty good system," Smith said of the league's drug policy. "Does it mean that any system is perfect? No. It is our job as players to constantly evaluate not only where that system is, but how it is implemented and how information is shared to players."

It would appear that the answers to the questions being asked won't be known until the Williamses have their day in court June 15.


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  • Commissioner Roger Goodell said that a second NFL regular-season game could be added in London starting in the 2010. While not always the most popular move among players and coaches, who have their routines drastically changed – not to mention one team losing a home game as a result – the games have been successes in terms of ticket sales and globalizing the popularity of the NFL. Other European locations remain an option but, given the success in London, it might be the logical candidate to get a second game.

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