According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Hennepin County Circuit Judge Gary Larson has ruled that defensive tackles Kevin and Pat Williams can continue to play football while their state-court claims against the NFL are pending.
In May, the NFL scored a partial victory against the pair, with the dismissal of federal claims challenging the imposition of the suspensions. But the federal court found that two claims arising under Minnesota state law could be pursued independently of the grievance procedure set forth in the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the league and the NFLPA.
Judge Larson, who’s not the same Gary Larsen who once played for the Vikings, also ruled that the NFL is not permitted to subject the players to enhanced testing that follows a positive result until the case is resolved.
A hearing will be held on July 22 regarding a request from the league to stay the state-court action pending the outcome of the NFL’s appeal of federal judge Paul Magnuson’s decision to permit the Minnesota statutory claims to survive. If the league obtains a stay, there’s a chance that the state-court action would be rendered moot, if the federal appeals court finds that a Collective Bargaining Agreement governed by federal labor law supersedes claims arising under a state statute.
Bottom line? The Williams Wall will stand tall to start the 2009 campaign, and there’s a good chance that their status won’t be finally resolved until after the coming season ends.
Maybe, in the end, the controversy will land on the desk of Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Alan Page, who is the same Alan Page who once played for the Vikings.