Broncos linebacker D.J. Williams will miss the first six games of the season for violating the league’s policy regarding anabolic steroids and related substances. The NFL had determined that Williams provided a non-human urine specimen for drug testing.
Williams’ legal challenge failed at the first level of the federal court system, and a three-judge appellate panel has upheld the ruling.
“[A] court’s role in these types of arbitration cases is simply to determine whether the arbitrator strayed from the collective-bargaining agreement,” the appeals court explained, via John Ingold of the Denver Post.
Williams pursued the same kind of strategy that the players suspended as part of the bounty investigation are implementing. Specifically, Williams challenged the fairness of the league’s in-house arbitration process. (By the way, Williams is represented by the same lawyer who represents Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma.)
And while the outcome of the Williams case vindicates the league, keep in mind that the NFL agreed to reduce former Broncos defensive lineman Ryan McBean’s similar suspension from six games to three in exchange for the dismissal of McBean’s lawsuit.
Thus, while some would regard a voluntary reduction of the bounty suspensions are unprecedented, there’s precedent, baby.