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Looks like suspended players can play rest of season (1 Viewer)

David Yudkin

Footballguy
Judge extends injunction against NFL suspensions

By STEVE KARNOWSKI, Associated Press Writer

MINNEAPOLIS (AP)—A federal judge extended his preliminary injunction against the NFL’s suspension of five players for violating the league’s anti-doping policy, a move their lawyer said will let them play the rest of the season.

In his ruling Thursday, U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson asked both parties to propose a schedule by Dec. 22 for further proceedings that would lead to an eventual hearing on the merits of the case, a process that could take months. The regular season ends Dec. 28.

Kevin Williams and Pat Williams of the Minnesota Vikings and Charles Grant, Deuce McAllister and Will Smith of the New Orleans Saints were suspended last week for four games each. They tested positive during training camp for a banned diuretic, bumetanide, in the dietary supplement StarCaps.

Bumetanide can be used as a masking agent for steroids. Diuretics are also used to quickly shed weight. The StarCaps label didn’t list the diuretic as an ingredient.

“The players and the union are thrilled,” Jeffrey Kessler, an attorney for the NFL Players Association, told The Associated Press. Kessler said the judge’s timeframe is long enough that the players can finish the season and go to the playoffs if their teams make it that far.

Kevin and Pat Williams, who aren’t related, are star defensive tackles for a Vikings team that is 8-5 and in first place in the NFC North. They play Sunday at Arizona.

New Orleans, 7-6 and in last place in the NFC South, played Thursday night at Chicago.

“Since there has to be discovery and other proceedings, it’s unlikely we would agree on a schedule for a trial until sometime after the Super Bowl,” Kessler said.

Magnuson issued his initial injunction Dec. 5 after hearing arguments from the league and the NFLPA. That move came two days after a Minnesota state court judge had issued a restraining order in a lawsuit brought by the Vikings players.

The union argued the NFL didn’t properly inform players about what it knew about StarCaps. The NFL’s attorneys argued that claim, and others, had been considered and rejected in a process set out by the league’s collective bargaining agreement.

Magnuson urged both sides to negotiate a solution. If they can’t, he will preserve the status quo until there is a full evidentiary hearing on the case. The two sides have until Dec. 22 to negotiate a proposed schedule for filing papers ahead of that hearing, otherwise the judge will schedule it himself. Magnuson did not set a hearing date.

The judge said the players union had shown it will likely succeed on its claims that the NFL breached its duty to the players by failing to share what it knew about StarCaps. Another issue is whether Jeffrey Pash, the NFL’s chief legal officer who upheld the five players’ suspensions, was too partial to be an arbitrator.

“We are extraordinarily pleased for Kevin and Pat as well as for the Vikings fans,” Peter Ginsberg, an attorney for the Williamses, said in a statement. “We appreciate the court’s decision to allow us to conduct a full and fair hearing to explore the full extent of the NFL’s failure to live up to its obligations to the players.”

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said in a statement the league accepted the decision.

“This is consistent with the approach the judge has taken in giving careful consideration to these issues, which we fully respect,” Aiello said.

Richard Berthelsen, acting executive director of the players union, said the decision shows that the league can’t ignore the rights of players in issuing arbitration rulings, and that courts will intervene if it does.

 
I'm pleased that a judge stepped in in this case. It simply seems wrong that the NFL knew and didn't inform the players of the dangers of this specific product. For the players involved, that's a lot of money they'd be losing for something that could have, and SHOULD HAVE been headed off with proper disclosure from the league offices.

This is one of those cases that simply makes you wonder if the NFL has gotten just a little bit too big for it's own good. While I like most of what Goodall's done, it's pathetic that the league offices don't accept some of the blame for this particular fiasco.

 
Bad news for the Falcons and Turner owners in week 16. Oh well, now when we beat them, they can't say they weren't at full strength! :lmao:

 
I still don't get this ruling. Unless the NFL is lying about sending a warning to the teams and the NFLPA, I don't see how the players are likely to win anything. If the NFL is lying about providing a warning in 2006, then I think they could be open to a civil suit by any of the players that took it.

 
I still don't get this ruling. Unless the NFL is lying about sending a warning to the teams and the NFLPA, I don't see how the players are likely to win anything. If the NFL is lying about providing a warning in 2006, then I think they could be open to a civil suit by any of the players that took it.
Regardless of how the league is spinning it, from what I understand, the NFL only issued directive that teams/players were not to endorse or sign marketing deals re: Star Caps products. I don't think that should be understood as a warning against using their products, as the NFL is now suggesting. The most damning fact I'm aware of for the NFL is they apparently became aware of the Star Caps problem when a player tested positive in 2006 and claimed Star Caps was all he took. That's when the NFL tested and determined Star Caps had the unknown/prohibited ingredient. I read on PFT that they did not suspend that player, which IMHO will be considered against the NFL. It's hard for the NFL to take the stance that it was a justified in 2006 to allow an exception, but not in 2008. It's that sort of arbitrary handling that could be deemed unfair enforcement of the policy. Presumably, had they taken the hardline "you're responsible for what you put in your body" stance in 2006 and suspended the player, that player would likely have publically complained/appealed about the product and other players might have learned of the problem.
 
I don't really have a dog in the fight, but what is up with a Minnesota judge ruling over the case? Obviously the Vikings are the team most affected, doesn't that seem like a conflict of interest? For all we know, the judge may be a season ticket holder.

 
I still don't get this ruling. Unless the NFL is lying about sending a warning to the teams and the NFLPA, I don't see how the players are likely to win anything. If the NFL is lying about providing a warning in 2006, then I think they could be open to a civil suit by any of the players that took it.
Regardless of how the league is spinning it, from what I understand, the NFL only issued directive that teams/players were not to endorse or sign marketing deals re: Star Caps products. I don't think that should be understood as a warning against using their products, as the NFL is now suggesting. The most damning fact I'm aware of for the NFL is they apparently became aware of the Star Caps problem when a player tested positive in 2006 and claimed Star Caps was all he took. That's when the NFL tested and determined Star Caps had the unknown/prohibited ingredient. I read on PFT that they did not suspend that player, which IMHO will be considered against the NFL. It's hard for the NFL to take the stance that it was a justified in 2006 to allow an exception, but not in 2008. It's that sort of arbitrary handling that could be deemed unfair enforcement of the policy. Presumably, had they taken the hardline "you're responsible for what you put in your body" stance in 2006 and suspended the player, that player would likely have publically complained/appealed about the product and other players might have learned of the problem.
I guess it really comes down to exactly what the memo said. Apparently the judges so far believe that the memo doesn't discuss any reason for why players wouldn't be allowed to endorse StarCaps.
 
The N.O. players should just take their suspensions now and get them over with IMO. They aren't going to win this appeal and the team is out of the playoff hunt. They are only hurting their team's chances next year by continuing to challenge their suspensions and risking missing the first few games of next year. The Minn players I can see why they are doing so, since Minn is still competing for the playoffs.

 
I don't really have a dog in the fight, but what is up with a Minnesota judge ruling over the case? Obviously the Vikings are the team most affected, doesn't that seem like a conflict of interest? For all we know, the judge may be a season ticket holder.
The Williams filed their suit in state court because their claims are state law claims, and the player conduct predominantly took place here. The NFLPA filed in Minnesota federal court because the federal judge in this District, Judge David Doty, has previously ruled in favor of the NFLPA regarding the $17 million Vick bonus. It was a bad break for the NFLPA that legal maneuvering by the NFL consolidated the NFLPA and Williams cases, and left it with Judge Magnuson instead of Doty. Typically a judge will only be recused if there is a concrete bias, such as a family member being employed by a company, or the judge being a major shareholder, etc. Even if Magnuson is a fan of the Vikes, I doubt that plays into his decisionmaking. His main reason for upholding the Restraining Order, based on accounts from last week's hearing, is his feeling that the NFL sat on this thing for months before handing him a hot potato and demanding he rule immediately on it. I don't think much should be rtead into the fact the judge is taking a measured approach. He apparently has concluded the players would be irreparably harmed by upholding the suspension, and based on some murky facts, is not clear whether the NFL is likely to win the case [which would be a reason to uphold the suspension].
 

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