Print and Go Back ESPN.com: NFL Nation [Print without images]

Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Here come the lawyers


Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert

It looks like Minnesota defensive tackles Kevin Williams and Pat Williams aren't going to go down without a fight -- and a potentially ugly one at that.

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.