Few things are more complicated in the league these days than the ongoing saga of Kevin Williams and Pat Williams of the Vikings trying to extricate themselves from a four-game suspension for testing positive for a banned substance.
That suspension, to be served at the start of this season, has turned into a court case on two fronts – with the Williamses appealing to a district court in Minnesota, trying to get the suspension put off or overturned, based on some state laws there, and the league trying to negate that possibility by appealing to a federal court. The NFL’s contention to that court is that the CBA, and its collectively bargained drug policies, supersede any state statute.
Which brings us to Wednesday’s news. The district judge in Minnesota has ruled to put the state proceedings there on hold, and noted that any trial there likely would not begin until after the season. However, in the meantime, the key date remains Aug. 18. That’s when a hearing begins in regards to the league’s attempt to get the suspension upheld by a federal court. The NFL remains hopeful that a decision from the federal court could come before the start of the season; if that were to happen, and the court was to side with the NFL, then the star defensive tackles would indeed be sitting out the first four games.
The league released this statement, through spokesman Michael Signora, in response to Wednesday’s decision in state court: “Today’s ruling recognizes that this case may well be decided by the federal court of appeals within the next several weeks and that no useful purpose is served by litigating the same issues in two different courts. We continue to believe that issues regarding the application of the collectively bargained NFL-NFLPA policy on performance enhancing drugs should be resolved under federal law and that the policy should apply uniformly to all players. The other sports leagues and USADA support that important principle.”