The Williams Wall is still standing tall.
And, after a court ruling Wednesday, it looks like nothing will prevent Pat Williams and Kevin Williams from being dismantled for part of the 2010 season.
The Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday that the NFL won't get the fast-track treatment to have their appeal heard from the decision made by Hennepin County District Court Judge Gary Larson that would block the NFL's ability to impose a four-game suspension for both players.
While Judge Larson ruled in favor of the NFL in the case (he ruled that the Williamses suffered no damages from the failed test), in a candidly written May 6 opinion of a request from the Williamses lawyers to continue blocking the suspensions during the appeals process, Judge Larson said his verdict could quite possibly be overturned on appeal and kept the injunction delaying the suspensions in place. From the strictly legal standard, he ruled that the NFL's Collective Bargaining Agreement with players supersedes state law, but, pointed out that the NFL knew StarCaps contained bumetanide and didn't tell players. As he wrote, the NFL "created a trap that it knew would result in violations of the program."
The Court of Appeals denied a request by the NFL for an "expedited hearing" of the case. As a result, attorneys for the Williamses will have months to prepare their case, which almost certainly will push the legal proceedings to late 2010 at the earliest. No briefing schedule has been set. That can take months, as both sides file briefs with the court and the opposing side has the opportunity to file response briefs. As one can imagine, the attorneys for the Williamses will be in no great rush to file response briefs. Only when the briefs file has been completed does the court schedule oral arguments. That process can also take several weeks to schedule. Once oral arguments are heard by the court, it has up to 90 days more to issue a ruling.
If the process proceeds as expected, oral arguments likely won't be heard until November or December and a ruling likely won't arrive until February or March.
The case has become a landmark question for not only the NFL, but professional sports and nationwide corporations as well. This case been drawn out so long only because the Williamses could afford to pay elite legal minds to make cogent arguments to force a corporation with entity companies in different states to adhere to the drug testing laws in that state. It can't be understated that both Pat and Kevin believe in their hearts that they are innocent. They admit ingesting a product to cut weight prior to their official training camp weigh-ins. But the ingredients listed on the packaging did not include bumetanide, a banned substance under NFL drug-testing policies.
In a statement, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said, "The Court noted that the NFL has the option to seek review sooner by filing a motion to vacate the trial court's ruling blocking the suspensions. We are studying the decision and will decide whether to pursue that option."
We now have a remake double-feature for movie depictions of Vikings players if the Vikings win the Super Bowl in February. The Brett Favre story will be entitled The 40-Year-Old Version and the Williamses in The NeverEnding Story III.
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.
Williamses earn another victory
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