In September, a three-judge panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit ruled that a federal judge in Minnesota properly sent back to the Minnesota court system drug-testing claims asserted under Minnesota statutory law by Minnesota Vikings defensive tackles Pat and Kevin Williams.
Now, the appeals court has rejected a request to reconsider its decision, according to the Associated Press.
Essentially, it was the Hail Mary pass before the Hail Mary pass of an appeal to the United States Supreme Court, which accepts for review only a fraction of the cases presented to it.
In 2008, Pat and Kevin Williams and multiple members of the Saints tested positive for a prescription diuretic that secretly had been placed into an over-the-counter supplement known as StarCaps. The Williamses have avoided four-game suspensions due to the fact that the Minnesota statutes provide specific drug-testing protections that might have been violated as to the two Vikings players.
No such law prevented the suspensions of Saints defensive ends Charles Grant and Will Smith, but the NFL has decided not to suspend them, given the superficial appearance of unfairness resulting from suspensions being imposed on players from one team and not on players from another team for engaging in the same behavior.
The league has complained — loudly — about the union’s support of the attack on the steroids policy, but the union was simply fulfilling its obligation to represent its players. The fact that the league has exclusive domain over the internal appeals process made the union’s decision to pursue judicial relief even more appropriate, in our view.
Regardless of those yawn-inducing details, today’s developments mean that there’s no way any of the players will be suspended during the 2009 regular season or postseason.