Judge puts Williams Wall suspensions on hold again as appeals continue
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The Williams Wall has been granted another legal timeout.
Hennepin County Judge Gary Larson this morning approved the request by Minnesota Vikings defensive tackles Pat Williams and Kevin Williams to continue delaying their four-game suspensions if they take their case to the state Court of Appeals.
In essence, it's an extension of the same injunction that has allowed the Williamses to play the past two seasons. The main question now is whether the appeal, which the players' lawyers intend to pursue, will be resolved in time for the NFL to potentially enforce the suspensions beginning with the season opener on Sept. 9 -- a timeline that seems unlikely.
However, per the Star Tribune, Larson also said in a memo the players are likely to win their appeal. "This court has no delusions of grandeur and has on previous occasions been reversed by the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court," Larson wrote.
The stay was granted because the Williamses proved they "would suffer irreparable injury unless the stay is granted, that (the NFL) will not be substantially harmed, and that the stay will not harm the public interest."
The suspensions have been on hold since 2008, when the Williamses sued over positive drug tests triggered by the presence of a banned substance in the over-the-counter dietary supplement StarCaps. Judge Larson ruled on May 6 the NFL can enforce the suspensions even though the league violated state labor laws.
If the Williames eventually do have to serve the suspensions, Vikings coach Brad Childress has suggested he is inclined to employ an in-house Plan "B" with Fred Evans, Jimmy Kennedy and Letroy Guion rather than pursuing veteran help from a free agent or through a trade.
UPDATE, 3:41 p.m.: Via ProFootballTalk.com, the NFL issued the following statement: ""Today's decision does not change the fact that every court has rejected the players' claims and upheld the operation of the policy. We are confident the state appellate court will do the same. The alleged 'public policy' and 'failure to warn' issues identified in today's decision were fully litigated and resolved in the league's favor by two federal courts last year. There is no basis in our view for now re-introducing those issues of federal law at this stage of the case."