With Week One of the 2009 regular season officially one week away, there’s a fairly important item of non-football business that is still pending.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit has not yet ruled on whether the May 2009 decision preserving the Minnesota statutory claims brought by Vikings defensive tackles Kevin and Pat Williams will be affirmed or reversed.
Though the facts and the claims can get convoluted, the next wrinkle in the case is clear. If the district court decision is upheld, the Vikings will have their two starting defensive tackles for the entire 2009 season. If the decision is overturned, the Williams Wall will be dismantled for the first four games of the season, against the Browns, Lions, 49ers, and Packers.
The proposed suspension arise from the ingestion by the two players of StarCaps, an over-the-counter weight-loss supplement that was effective because it secretly had been spiked with a prescription diuretic, which also is a banned substance because it can be used to mask the presence of steroids.
Prior reports have indicated that is expected before the Vikings travel to Cleveland for a Week One reunion between quarterback Brett Favre against his most recent former head coach, Eric Mangini.
If the suspensions are going to be upheld, the league ideally would like to block the Williamses from the Vikings facility no later than Monday, September 7. And since September 7 is Labor Day, if a ruling isn’t announced today or tomorrow, the earliest we’ll see it is Tuesday, September 8.
The Court already has expedited the process, holding oral arguments on August 18. So, as of right now, it’s reasonable to assume that a decision could drop today or tomorrow.