Vikings defensive linemen Kevin Williams and Pat Williams may have been close to avoiding a four-game, league-imposed suspension by coming to a settlement before a federal judge's ruling last week, according to a Friday report on Yahoo.com.
"During settlement talks as recent as May 22, sources said the league was willing to set aside the four-game suspensions for Charles Grant, Deuce McAllister, Will Smith, Kevin Williams and Pat Williams, but were asking the players to pay a ‘six-figure' fine instead," the report said. "In addition, the union requested that appeals of suspensions no longer be heard by commissioner Roger Goodell or someone in the league office, according to three of the four [anonymous] sources."
But if that report is true, it was news to Kevin Williams.
"That's the first time I've heard of it," he said when told of the report after a minicamp session this weekend. "I haven't heard anything about being close to a settlement or anything. We're just waiting. It's in the state court and our hands are tied. What is going to come, (will come out) at the hearing, whenever that date is set, and we're going to go from there."
U.S. District Court judge Paul Magnuson threw out most of the claims made by the Williamses, the three Saints players from last year, and the NFL Players Association. However, two parts of the Williamses' claims were remanded to state court.
After that ruling on May 22, the NFL announced that they will appeal the part of the ruling remanding some of the case to the Minnesota courts, where state employment laws might give the Williamses a chance to have their four-game suspensions overturned. In turn, the NFLPA came out the next day and said it plans to appeal other parts of the case that were ruled upon in the NFL's favor.
Kevin Williams said he is hopeful that the state courts will rule in favor of the players.
"It's a good chance. We didn't get an answer in the federal court. It's in the court system and we'll have to rely on them to make the decision," Williams said.
At issue is whether the NFL was within its rights to suspend the players for four games after testing positive for the banned substance bumetanide. The masking agent was found in the dietary pill StarCaps, but bumetanide wasn't among the listed ingredients on the label. According to testimony and documents, the NFL knew about the presence of bumetanide in StarCaps but didn't warn its players specifically about that, instead choosing to issue more vague warnings about endorsing products that weren't sanctioned by the league.
Magnuson's opinion in his ruling indicates that he believes the league should have done more but wasn't required to do that under the collective bargaining agreement between the players union and the NFL.
"There is no doubt that it would have been preferable for the NFL to communicate with players specifically about the presence of bumetanide in StarCaps," Magnuson wrote in his opinion. "… The NFL's failure to do so is baffling, but it is not a breach of the NFL's duties to its players."
The Williamses will now be at the mercy of the state court, unless the NFL wins its appeal on their cases being remanded to the state level.
Settlement report news to Kevin Williams
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