Ruling could keep Williams Wall standing

Just two weeks ago, it appeared defensive tackles Pat and Kevin Williams would be suspended for four games, but wording in a ruling Friday morning gives them hope of playing the entire 2010 season and possibly ultimately winning their case.

Pat Williams and Kevin Williams are likely going to be available for most or all of the 2010 season after being granted an extension to the temporary injunction granted in an 11-page opinion from Hennepin County District Court Judge Gary Larson this morning.

In his decision, Larson said that the Williamses had "satisfied the standard" for proving that their suspensions should be blocked during the appeals process. In short, what the decision appears to show is that the Williamses can appeal the case to the Minnesota Court of Appeals and, even if they lose at that level, would have the chance to appeal to the Minnesota Supreme Court. Given the time that having cases filed and heard at both levels typically take several months, it appears at face value that there is little chance both appeals would be heard during the 2010 season.

Although Larson ruled against the Williamses in his decision, claiming that the NFL didn't harm the Williamses through their drug testing policy and procedures that contradicted Minnesota law, in his ruling Friday, he gave the distinct impression that his ruling may well be overturned on appeal, saying the league shouldn't benefit from "it's own misconduct."

"(The NFL) knew StarCaps contained Bumetanide, that players were ingesting Bumetanide, that Bumetanide was dangerous and withheld information about StarCaps, knowing that players would suffer as a result. (The NFL) created a trap that it knew would result in violations of the program."

The Williamses have contended throughout the process that, had they known StarCaps contained a banned substance, they wouldn't have taken it. The labeling of StarCaps didn't include Bumetanide as an ingredient.

Larson went on to say that the league contention that its drug policy would be severely damaged if Larson ruled in favor of the Williamses is a problem of its own making.

"(The NFL) could have easily avoided this very situation by informing players or teams what it already knew – that StarCaps contained a hidden, dangerous substance. (The NFL) knew that many players were already inadvertently ingesting Bumetanide and continued to the place the health, safety and welfare of its players in jeopardy, so that (NFL General Counsel) Adolpho Birch could play a game of ‘gotcha.' The league clearly allowed a half dozen other players to use Bumetanide without punishment."

What a difference two weeks can make. Larson's ruling earlier this month seemed to knock down most if not all of the hurdles in front of the NFL to finally impose the suspension, which it has tried to do since they were announced in November 2008. However, in this morning's ruling, it would appear as though the Williams Wall is going to remain intact for 2010 and, in the end, could prevail in court.

John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

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