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How long can this go on?

July 9th, 2009 – 3:53 PM by Judd Zulgad

No the above headline has nothing to do with the day-to-day updates about Brett Favre and whether he will return to the NFL. Rather, we are talking about another offseason story involving the Vikings. That, of course, is the legal case of Pro Bowl defensive tackles Kevin and Pat Williams.

The Williamses continue to fight four-game suspensions for violating the NFL’s anti-doping policy and today the players scored a victory when Hennepin County District Judge Gary Larson extended an injunction that temporarily lifts the bans. The key question for everyone is when this matter might get resolved once and for all?

It’s evident the NFL, like almost everyone, is thinking the sooner the better. Here is a statement issued by the league: “Today’s decision, which effectively exempts two players from the NFL-NFLPA collectively bargained program, further illustrates the critical importance of a uniform policy for all teams in the league and why this matter should be governed exclusively by federal law. The Court’s interim decision regarding the suspensions has no immediate practical
impact since the suspensions will not take effect until the beginning of the regular season in September. In the meantime, our appeal to the United States Court of Appeals, which argues that the players’ state claims are barred by the Collective Bargaining Agreement, should be resolved before the start of the season.”

Clearly, a favorable ruling for the NFL from the appeals court would end this process and mean the Williamses would have to sit out the first four games of the season. Of course, if the Williamses prevail on appeal the case could be headed to trial and that could extend this process well into the season and perhaps beyond.

One thing to keep in mind — and something pointed out in the NFL statement — is that if the league wins this case anytime soon the suspensions would not go into effect until the regular season begins. What that means is that Larson’s ruling today did not make the Williamses eligible for training camp or preseason games. They already could take part in those activities.

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