The NFL announced Tuesday it will defer any suspension of Saints DE’s Will Smith and Charles Grant for testing positive for a banned diuretic, despite a court ruling last week that cleared the path for the league to follow through with the discipline.
The league could still enforce the four-game suspensions in the future. A separate court ruling allowed Vikings players Pat Williams and Kevin Williams, who also were suspended by league rules, to seek protection under Minnesota law, preventing their suspensions. The dual rulings put the league in a position to decide whether it would be fair to suspend one set of players and not the other — and the NFL decided to wait before moving forward.
In short, it is possible that all four players will be able to play the entire season before their cases are adjudicated or mediated.
“The situation presents several unique and narrow aspects that I believe call for us to put the goof of the game ahead of questions of discipline,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in today’s statement. “Considerations of fairness, uniform application of our policies and competitive integrity all support deferring the suspensions at this time. I am not prepared to treat players differently when the same conduct is involved.”