NFL roundup: Williamses vs. NFL goes to trial todayMore than a year after two Minnesota Vikings sued the NFL over its anti-doping procedures, the closely watched case heads to trial Monday with sports leagues worried the outcome will hurt their ability to enforce drug policies across the country.
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — More than a year after two Minnesota Vikings sued the NFL over its anti-doping procedures, the closely watched case heads to trial Monday with sports leagues worried the outcome will hurt their ability to enforce drug policies across the country.
Defensive tackles Kevin Williams and Pat Williams played all last season while challenging their four-game suspensions for testing positive for a banned diuretic during training camp in 2008. The NFL wanted the case decided in federal court, but it instead wound up before a Minnesota judge.
The trial will attempt to settle a handful of labor issues and the big one is deciding who employs the players — the NFL, the Vikings, or both — when it comes to drug testing. A state judge said that if the NFL employs the players, even partially, then the league has to follow Minnesota labor law, though the issue must be settled at trial.
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello calls the lawsuit a “state law end-around that can undermine all anti-doping policies in sports.”
“Most of the claims in the state law case have already been dismissed. But for an anti-doping policy to be effective on (a) national basis for leagues that have teams in many states, there must be uniform standards that cannot be cherry-picked state-by-state based on different state laws,” Aiello said in a statement Friday.
Two years ago, the players tested positive for the banned substance bumetanide, which can mask the presence of steroids; they are not accused of taking steroids. Both acknowledged taking the over-the-counter weight loss supplement StarCaps the night before a training camp weigh-in so they could meet their weight targets and earn $400,000 bonuses.
Attorneys for the Williamses contend NFL officials knew StarCaps contained bumetanide — even though it was not listed as an ingredient on the label — and did not specifically notify players or the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The NFL countered that players are responsible for what they put into their bodies, and Aiello said the league properly administered its anti-drug policy.
The Williamses, who are not related, contend the NFL is their employer and had to comply with Minnesota law requiring notice of a positive drug test within three business days.
Their attorney, Peter Ginsberg, said the league has “erratically managed” the policy and kept “obviously important information” from the players.
“We believe strongly that the (NFL’s) steroid policy has the potential of being the best organized sports (anti-doping) program. Unfortunately, the NFL has manipulated and mismanaged that policy, so our hope is the policy, after this trial, will be stronger and better,” Ginsberg said.
Jags sign 2-time Pro Bowl DE Kampman
The Jacksonville Jaguars used veterans, rookies, former first-round draft picks and a few undrafted guys in hopes of generating consistent pass rush last season. Even with different schemes, various blitzes and some new faces, nothing really worked.
The Jaguars finished with a franchise-low 14 sacks in 2009, the fifth-lowest total in NFL history.
Owner Wayne Weaver, general manager Gene Smith and coach Jack Del Rio all vowed to revamp the defensive line, knowing the team stood little chance of making the playoffs without more quarterback pressure.
They may have found a solution with two-time Pro Bowler Aaron Kampman. The 30-year-old defensive end signed with the Jaguars on Sunday, giving the small-market franchise a big-time boost to their pass-rush woes.
Jacksonville, which also elevated its special teams with the signing of Kassim Osgood this weekend, targeted Kampman before free agency began Friday. The Jaguars hoped to land Kampman or former Tennessee defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch, who signed a four-year contract worth $26 million with Detroit.