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Tuesday, June 2, 2009
A Williams Wall primer

By Kevin Seifert
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert

I've had more than a few requests to clear up where the Williams Wall case stands, as a series of legal maneuverings has left many of us confused.

Here's the easiest way I can explain it:

  1. A federal judge threw out most of the lawsuit brought by Minnesota defensive tackles Kevin Williams and Pat Williams on May 22. But U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson assigned two claims to be assigned to state court.
  2. The two claims relate to whether the NFL's system for drug testing is legal under Minnesota state labor laws. Attorneys for the players are arguing some terms of the policy are illegal based on Minnesota state statutes. If so, it would call into question the legal validity of their drug tests.
  3. The NFL appealed the decision to send the two claims to state court, asking them to be thrown out as well.
  4. In the meantime, the case returned to state court Tuesday. Hennepin County Judge Gary Larson presided. One of the primary issues discussed is whether Larson's temporary injunction -- the one that originally blocked the four-game suspensions last December -- is still valid.
  5. As a practical matter, the answer to that question is moot unless the case remains unresolved when the regular season begins.
  6. There is no timetable for Larson ruling on either the injunction question or the two claims on Minnesota state labor laws.

Again, much of this is legal gobbedly-gook. In the NFL, suspensions cover games but not offseason or summer practices. Kevin Williams and Pat Williams would be free to practice and train with the Vikings whether they were under the terms of a suspension or not. The suspensions, even if they are still valid, wouldn't kick in until the week of Sept. 7.

The bottom line is that the sides have more than three months to work out this case before it starts impacting whether either player will be available for the Sept. 13 season opener at Cleveland.