How long will Williams Wall injunction last?
May, 21, 2010
By Kevin Seifert | ESPN.com
Tom Dahlin/Getty ImagesA Minnesota judge says he will keep the suspensions of Pat Williams, left, and Kevin Williams on hold if they follow through on their plan to appeal the punishment for violating the NFL's anti-drug policy.The Williams Wall will remain standing for as long as it pursues its lawsuit against the NFL. That's the upshot of Friday's ruling from Hennepin County (Minnesota) Judge Gary Larson, who granted an injunction to lift their four-game suspensions while they appeal their most recent legal defeat.
This ruling is more about timing than whether or not Kevin Williams and Pat Williams will ultimately serve their suspensions. The larger case has lingered for 18 months and it would be impossible to predict its shelf life. All we know is that it will move to the Minnesota state court of appeals. If the players can't overturn the case there, the next (and perhaps final?) step would be the United States Supreme Court.
With the injunction in place, the players are protected until they either win or run out of legal options. Can that all happen in the four months leading up to the regular season? I doubt anyone can predict that timing, especially if the Supreme Court becomes part of the equation. *Update See this updated post, which explains why it's almost certain both players will be eligible to play the entire 2010 season.)
In preparation for the possibility of Larson rejecting the players' injunction request, I had a chart all ready to go. It illustrates the 2009 frequency and success of middle runs by the first four teams the Vikings will play this season.
Because there is at least a possibility the Williams Wall will be absent for those games, I'll let you chew on the chart now. (*Update: That possibility is remote, but that's never stopped us before.) You'll notice the Miami Dolphins were one of the NFL's most frequent up-the-middle runners, while Detroit and New Orleans attempted it relatively rarely. Teams can change their approach from one year to the next, but all four of those opponents have returned the same offensive coordinator for 2010.