No final decision yet on StarCaps suspensions

In a 44-page written opinion issued on Thursday morning, Judge Gary Larson ruled that the 2008 drug testing of Vikings defensive tackles Pat and Kevin Williams violated Minnesota law.

But the outcome of the cross motions for summary judgment is being characterized as a “split decision” by Brian Murphy of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, with the league winning on some issue and the players prevailing on others.  The biggest question — whether the four-game suspensions will be implemented or scuttled — remains undecided.  Presumably, the suspensions will be resolved as part of a trial that begins on March 8.

The most significant lingering issue relates to the question of whether the NFL employs the Williamses, or whether they are employed only by the Vikings. 

In this context (and we say this only half-jokingly), the league apparently isn’t a “single entity.”

We’re trying to get out mitts on the full ruling, due in part to our desire to inform the PFT audience and in part to the fact that I’ve had trouble falling asleep this week.

7 responses to “No final decision yet on StarCaps suspensions

  1. This is going to start getting very interesting. Now both sides in this case are going to have to prove the opposite of what they’re going to want to claim in the antitrust context.
    If the NFL has the right to impose a suspension and make it stick, then it isn’t an employer (but the teams are), and so the NFL teams are potentially illegally colluding under antitrust law.
    If the NFL is an employer, then it can’t impose suspensions on the Williams Wall — but it can still claim single-entity and bypass the antitrust laws.
    Sounds like the smart thing for the NFL to do here is to drop the suspensions, because pursuing this will hurt the league in the long run.
    But then of course Lord Favre (and the rest of the Vikings) can take all the HGH he wants this season, and there’s nothing the league can do about it. (Not saying he has in the past — just that he’d be an idiot not to do it this year.)
    Or of course the two sides could just engage in a staredown and both hope the other side blinks first.

  2. We’re trying to get out mitts on the full ruling, due in part to our desire to inform the PFT audience and in part to the fact that I’ve had trouble falling asleep this week
    Also due in part that Viking related posts pay your bills.

  3. Well boys, now that you didn’t got the SB, time to pay the piper! Enjoy your suspensions. brett Favre called, he means it this time with retirement. LOL

  4. The remaining legal question is whether or not the NFL is at least partially to be considered the “employer” in this case, and if it is then the NFL is subject to state laws governing employee rights.
    If the NFL is not, as it claims, in any way to be considered an “employer” of NFL players, the question would be: “Why do you assume the privilege of testing and suspending employees that are not your own but rather those of another firm?”
    Once again, the NFL wants to be considered “a single entity” when it suits them and an association of independent businesses when it does not.
    The most important ruling of the federal judge today was this: “Larson’s order said the league clearly violated Minnesota laws by failing to tell the players within three days that they had tested positive for a banned substance.” (quoting from the MN Star & Tribune)
    Since the judge has found that the league “clearly violated MN law” it seems highly unlikely that the NFL can expect things to go their way in the March trial, and by the way–the NFL has made it clear that they had NO desire to go to rial with this.

  5. I don’t even give a damn about this anymore. Just end it. Make sure the new CBA has language to prevent it from happening again.

  6. Wouldn’t the NFL mandated rookie symposium, the Pro Bowl, and other LEAGUE sponsored events demonstrate that NFL Players who work for Individual NFL Teams, are still employees of the league as a whole even though their paychecks come from an individual team.
    Also discipline comes from an NFL and team level. Although this is collectively bargained, the mere fact that 32 companies collectively bargain as “the shield” suggests that the collective is a larger entity “the shield” (the UAW had to negotiate with the big 3 separately not “A GIANT HOTMESS AUTOMAKER 1). League office discipline demonstrates that individual companies do not have final disciplinary power over their employees, felonies not withstanding. For instance; Bryant McKinnie is potentially subject to a fine for not showing up at the NFL Pro Bowl (not Minnesota Viking Pro Bowl), and the team is not fining him, but the NFL may? The Colts players had to show up at NFL sponsored Super Bowl activities against the protestations of their employer, the Colts? Another company cannot fine me for my job performance or compel me to do work for them unless I somehow “work” for them also.
    It is fairly obvious that the league wants it both ways, and for the health of the league, it should be allowed to operate that way. As people who prosper from the set up of the league the Williams’ are showing bad form for questioning the status quo.
    However, they are challenging and they are right, the NFL players are, just that, NFL players first, and Vikings, Packers, Cowboys, et. al. second.

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