As the NFL continues to wait for a ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit regarding the lingering StarCaps litigation, the delay might result in the players facing four-game suspensions for taking StarCarps being available for Week One.
Jason La Canfora of NFL Network reports that Saints defensive ends Will Smith and Charles Grant will be able to play in Week One unless the appeals court affirms the dismissal of their claims on Tuesday. After Tuesday, any suspension would be imposed as of Week Two.
But the Saints might prefer the suspensions to become effective now. For their first game, they face the Lions, who were 0-16 in 2008. Their fifth game is against the Giants, who had the best record in the NFC a year ago.
The delay also benefits Vikings defensive tackles Pat and Kevin Williams. If the appeals court overturns the decision to preserve their claims arising under Minnesota statutes, they’ll be suspended, too. The impact of a brief delay arguably is a wash; the Vikings travel to Cleveland in Week One, and to St. Louis in Week Five.
Regardless of when the ruling comes, keep an eye out for the possibility that the suspensions will run consecutively, so that the Saints and/or the Vikings won’t have to go four games with neither player.