Buried in the most recent item from Brian Murphy of the St. Paul Pioneer Press (not to be confused with the Minneapolis Star Tribune . . . only a complete idiot would do something like that) is one of the most important developments in the case involving the efforts of Vikings defensive tackles Kevin and Pat Williams to block four-game suspensions arising from the league’s policy regarding anabolic steroids and related substances.
Per Murphy, the United State Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit has scheduled oral arguments regarding the review of the May 22 decision preserving the Williamses’ state-law claims for August 18, which is part of a schedule aimed at producing a ruling before Week One of the 2009 season.
So if the federal appeals court finds that the federal district court erroneously concluded that the claims arising under Minnesota statutory law supersede the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NFL and its union, Kevin and Pat Williams will miss the first four games of the coming campaign.
Today, the judge presiding over the remaining state-court claims will determine whether to stay the case pending the outcome of the federal appeal. Given that the federal case is on track to be resolved (barring an unlikely appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court) by early September, we suspect that the league’s motion for a stay will be granted.
Bottom line? The league has scored a coup in this regard, persuading the appeals court to alter its normal schedule for the convenience of the parties. And as a result we’ll all known before the ball kicks off on the Sunday after Labor Day whether the Vikings will have two of the best run stuffers in the game.