NFC North: Peter Ginsberg
Only 50 percent of the Williams Wall is expected to return to the Minnesota Vikings next season, and that half has given up his 27-month legal case against the NFL to overturn a four-game suspension for violating the league's policy against performance-enhancing drugs.
Indeed, as Chip Scoggins of the Star Tribune reports, the attorney for defensive tackle Kevin Williams confirmed he allowed an appeal filing deadline to pass Thursday, essentially exhausting his legal avenues. Attorney Peter Ginsberg said Williams "has had enough with the lawyers, the courts." It's not immediately clear how the NFL will proceed given its current labor battle with the NFL Players Association, but Williams could be subject to a four-game suspension in 2011.
Nose tackle Pat Williams has decided to continue his legal attempts to avoid his suspension, which the NFL handed down in 2008 after both players tested positive for a banned diuretic found in a weight loss supplement. Pat Williams and Kevin Williams claimed they were unaware they were ingesting the diuretic and challenged the legality of the NFL’s testing program under Minnesota law. Pat Williams is expected to sign elsewhere as a free agent this spring.
While some judges agreed to delay the suspensions along the way, ultimately neither player has succeeded in getting them permanently blocked. I'm guessing we won't know Kevin Williams' fate until after the NFL and its players agree to a new collective bargaining agreement.
Continuing around the NFC North:
- Missing four games in 2011 would cost Williams $1.4 million of his $6 million base salary, notes Jeremy Fowler of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
- Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy confirmed that A.J. Hawk and Desmond Bishop are his starting middle linebackers, saying that the health status of Nick Barnett and Brandon Chillar are still under review. Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has more.
- The Detroit Lions want to bring back veteran backup quarterback Drew Stanton, who has improved under the tutelage of Lions offensive coordinator Scott Linehan, notes Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press.
- Tom Kowalski of Mlive.com writes the Lions have a lot of investigating to do of potential draft pick Jimmy Smith, a cornerback from Colorado. Kowalski doesn't think they should draft him. Kowalski: "The Lions, though, have not advanced to the stage where they're going to take my word for it. Someday, perhaps, but not today."
- Chicago Bears receiver Johnny Knox is capitalizing on his breakout season, writes Vaughn McClure of the Chicago Tribune.
- Bob LeGere of the Daily Herald predicts the Bears will draft Baylor guard Danny Watkins with the No. 29 overall pick.
According to the St. Paul Pioneer Press, the players have retained a New York-based attorney who plans to file litigation Wednesday to prevent their four-game suspensions from taking effect. In an interview with the newspaper, attorney Peter Ginsberg issued some aggressive rhetoric that indicates he will bring intense public pressure on the NFL to reverse its decision.
Ginsberg said the NFL is "fictionalizing in fact what occurred" and said it should be "sanctioned for this kind of behavior."
Moreover, Ginsberg accused the NFL of caring only about "the commercial aspect of the league" and showed "gross disregard ... for the health and safety of the players" by not specifically informing them that the StarCaps weight-loss supplement contained a banned diuretic.
(The league said in a release Tuesday that it banned all products made by the manufacturer of StarCaps and revealed the connection to the NFL Players Association in 2006. The NFL's collectively-bargained steroids policy does not require a more specific revelation, the league said in a statement Tuesday).
Ginsberg hammered the policy itself, saying: "It's not designed to protect the players. It's designed to placate politicians and protect the image of the league." He also called the suspensions "unfair to the teams involved, their fans and the players."
All of this sounds good and fair. But from a legal standpoint, it will be interesting to see if Ginsberg has a case. Is he merely trying to pressure the league into reconsidering? Or does he have a fact-based argument that could exonerate his clients?
After all, the NFL and its Players Association have collectively-bargained the steroids policy. Ginsberg would have to argue that the policy was wrongly administered. Suggesting that the policy itself is unfair or illegal might not help because the players participated in its development.
At any rate, it's clear this issue is far from over.
John Clayton weighs in on the suspensions.