Williams, McBean file challenge to six-game suspensions


As expected, Broncos linebacker D.J. Williams (pictured) and defensive end Ryan McBean filed in court on Monday a legal challenge to the league’s imposition of six-game suspensions on each of them for allegedly violating the league’s steroids policy.  PFT has obtained a copy of the relevant paperwork.

Although their suspensions were resolved via binding arbitration, the law allows arbitration awards to be attacked under certain specific circumstances.  Generally, the players claim that the arbitrator assigned to the case (NFL executive Harold Henderson) exceeded his powers, engaged in misconduct, disregarded the law, and was not impartial.  Specifically, they argue (among other things) that Henderson “ignored fatal issues concerning the collection process, safeguarding of the urine specimens and chain of custody,” engaged in private communications with the NFL about the case, delayed the ruling at the direction of the NFL, and failed to issue a decision within five days after the hearing.

They seek not only a reversal of the suspensions but a preliminary injunction preventing the suspensions from being implemented while the case is pending.

To support their claims, the players allege multiple violations of the league’s sample-collection and chain-of-custody procedures.  Williams alleges a failure to seal the sample in his presence, failure to document the time the sample was provided, failure to secure Williams’ initials on the seal on the side of the specimen container, failure to establish the whereabouts of the sample for as long as two hours and 50 minutes, and failure to indicate the time the sample was received by FedEx.  McBean claims that he did not personally witness the sealing of two of four sample vials, and that certain documents regarding the arrival of the sample at the lab were duplicative and contradictory, with one record showing the sample was received on August 20, 2011 and another record showing the sample arrived a week later.

The tests determined the samples to be non-human specimens.

Complicating matters for the league is that the specimen collector eventually was fired for failure “to fulfill his duties and obligations as a specimen collector in material manners, including with regard to the collection, handling and safeguarding of the Williams Urine Specimen and McBean Urine Specimen.”

The players also claim that NFL general counsel Jeff Pash directed Henderson to delay the issuance of a ruling following the December 13, 2011 appeal hearing.  Although the players do not specifically contend that Pash hoped to ensure that the players would be available during Denver’s playoff run, the petition points out the benefit the league derived from a delay:  “[T]he NFL was riding the wave of publicity flowing from [Tim] Tebow’s rise to stardom. By pushing the possible suspensions beyond the 2011 season, the NFL commercially benefited by keeping the Broncos as competitive as possible during the 2011 playoff run, for the NFL’s pecuniary benefit and at the Players’ expense.”

Though some would say that the players also benefited from having the suspensions delayed, Williams will lose more money in 2012 because he has a higher salary.  Also, McBean is a free agent, and the full six-game suspension could make it harder for him to land a new contract.

The court likely will issue soon an order establishing a date for the filing of the NFL’s response.  The case seems to be fairly straightforward, unless the NFL disputes the key factual allegations regarding the chain of custody flaws, the communications between Pash and Henderson, and/or the requirement that a decision be issued within five days.

15 responses to “Williams, McBean file challenge to six-game suspensions

  1. “to fulfill his duties and obligations as a specimen collector in material manners, including with regard to the collection, handling and safeguarding of the Williams Urine Specimen and McBean Urine Specimen.”

    Oh my god this is too funny for words. I wonder if the guy who wrote it snickered.

  2. Does anybody give a dam about the stupid drug testing in the NFL or any other place, for that matter, this is so ludicrous it’s pathetic.
    Steroids who cares it’s their body let them do it screw anybody that doesn’t like it; they are probably taking some valiums to go to sleep tonight anyway.
    What they need to crack down on is fining this people every time they breath wrong take Goodell and fire his ass send him to the NBA or Golf or something that’s not important, Women’s basketball LOL LOL now that s a sport right.
    JD Mastermind
    Has approved this message

    JD Master Mind

  3. Clowns. Is it just part of the process to appeal everytime there is a suspension? Call old fashioned but my parents tought me to take responsibility for my actions.

  4. Who’s going to want these two bozo’s on their team?

    They better get enough from their lawsuits to last them a very long time.

  5. Sounds like they have a case and should get probably get off free.

    However i think it’s just as likely they screwed with the samples themselves and they got lucky.

  6. Here is what I do not understand, they got busted for inhuman samples. With the whole Braun deal, it was stated that he was watched while filling the cup. Does the NFL not have the same policy?

  7. joetoronto says: Mar 13, 2012 5:44 AM

    Who’s going to want these two bozo’s on their team?

    They better get enough from their lawsuits to last them a very long time.
    And there’s the obligatory diatribe against the Broncos from the idiot that roots for the team of overpaid track stars. The same team that finally achieved mediocrity in the first half of a season to which the idiot fan base immediately responded with claims of a super bowl run. I should remember that it is the off season, the time when the homeless crack addicts (raider fans) are banging their “we’re the best” drums as loud as possible.

  8. @mjkelly77

    I truly understand what your meaning is here about the Braun case. The difference here is that the NFL acknowledge’s the wrongs by firing the collector for the violations in collecting the specimens. That by it self could get these guys off!

  9. Sounds to me like these guys were dirty but due to the league’s ineptness they will likely win their cases. I would not be surprised if they were found to have bought “clean urine samples” and actually just got some doe pee from some deer hunter scam artist.

  10. I can’t believe the NFL stubbornly went ahead with these suspensions given the fact that they actually fired the guy for mishandling these exact testing specimens. Seems like a situation where they should just let it slide for fairness and/or test the folks a little more frequently now.

  11. The NFL never should have gone ahead with these suspensions. Non-human specimans?? They couldn’t find a friend to fill their whizanators? Hard to believe.

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