The WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHmbulences are being dispatched to Chicago and Green Bay as we speak. (The completely brain-dead whining in the Green Bay link is especially choice. Somehow, the most bitter tears always taste the sweetest.)
Yes, this afternoon the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit made the ruling that the National Football League could not suspend Vikings' defensive tackles Pat and Kevin Williams for violating the league's substance abuse policy. While the whole 35-page ruling makes for some decent reading, the nub of it is that the court determined that the NFL's Collective Bargaining Agreement doesn't overrule the rights of employees in the state of Minnesota. Minnesota has some of the strictest labor laws in the nation, and if not for those laws, it's possible that they may have already been suspended.
The news, unfortunately, is not as good for Charles Grant and Will Smith of the New Orleans Saints. Louisiana has no such law like the one that protects Minnesota employees, and as a result their suspensions are still valid and will likely start being served in Week 2.
But let's take a closer look at the Minnesota side of the case. . .mainly about how it's been viewed by a lot of folks thus far.
The biggest whine I've heard from folks that are calling for Pat and Kevin Williams to be drawn and quartered is that they should have to face their suspensions "like men." I don't really know what sort of garbage that is, but the fact that the Williams Wall looked at a league that was attempting to screw them over and say, "Nope, not this time" frankly makes me proud to be a fan of both guys. As we've detailed numerous times on this site, the league was attempting to nail Pat and Kevin Williams for taking bumetanide that a supplement they had been taking. . .a supplement that the NFL had deemed illegal because it can be used to mask steroid use (correction from the earlier version). . .in order to cut weight. The makers of StarCaps, the supplement in question, put the bumetanide into the pills without putting it on the label, and subsequently got themselves into relatively deep fecal matter with the Food and Drug Administration as a result. See, bumetanide is generally available by prescription only, and I guess the makers of StarCaps couldn't really come up with a feasible excuse for putting it into a substance that was readily available over the counter.
(Well, used to be available over the counter, anyway. . .it doesn't appear that StarCaps is available anywhere any more at this point.)
But the NFL and Roger Goodell, having never been wrong about anything in the course of history, didn't want to hear anything about it. Never mind the fact that the NFL apparently knew that StarCaps contained the illegal substance and didn't bother to actually let anybody know. After the Korey Stringer incident, for the NFL to not tell teams that a substance contains a diuretic for the sole purpose of being able to scream "GOTCHA" at people that might take it is ignorant at best. . .and could have been deadly at worst. The NFL should consider themselves fortunate that this is all they have to deal with and not a REAL inconvenience like. . .I don't know. . .a wrongful death lawsuit or something.
Which moves us on to the legal process itself. The original ruling in this case was handed down by District Court Judge Paul A. Magnuson. Now, a lot of people seemed to have had a problem with this, because by all accounts Magnuson is a life long fan of the Minnesota Vikings (as well as the Minnesota Twins), having grown up in South Dakota and spending his entire legal career in Minnesota. The word has even gone around that Magnuson is a Vikings' season ticket holder. All fine and dandy, mind you, and if you're wearing a tin foil hat or are afraid that there are black helicopters circling your house, it might even make sense. However. . .let me ask you one teeny, tiny, minor little question:
Do you honestly think for one second that a man that has been in the legal profession for over 45 years, has busted his tail for all those years to achieve the status he currently has, and currently has a wonderful job with a great pension attached. . .is going to even contemplate throwing all of that away OVER A FOOTBALL TEAM?
Because if you do, here's my advice:
1) Stand up out of your chair
2) Grab your earlobes
3) Pull downwards until you hear a loud popping noise.
There. . .you've finally managed to dislodge your head from your ass. Congratulations.
Since many of the people that want to whine and complain about Judge Magnuson being a "homer" can't differentiate between legal briefs and boxer briefs, that minor little detail probably won't matter to them. So, that moves us on to the Court of Appeals that I mentioned at the beginning. The three judges on the panel that issued the Williams Wall ruling?
The Honorable Diana E. Murphy, Minneapolis, MN (HOLY CRAP, ANOTHER VIKINGS HOMER!!)
The Honorable Duane Benton, Kansas City, MO (Well. . .ummmm. . .hey, he could be a Viking fan!)
The Honorable Bobby E. Shepard, Benton, AR (Damn. . .this whole "homer judge" thing is losing a lot of steam)
I would put the odds of all three of these judges being Vikings' season ticket holders or "Vikings homers" at somewhere between slim and none. . .and I believe I just heard Slim say "Check, please!"
So, if you actually believe this cockamaime theory about how the Williams Wall got favorable rulings from homer judges. . .please feel free to point out where, as it applies to the laws of the state of Minnesota, Judge Magnuson or any of the Appeals Court judges did anything illegal or incorrect. We'll be listening.
In the meantime, the best run defense in the NFL is going to have its core all year, and probably beyond. And there's not a damn thing that anybody can do about it.
Bring on the Browns, and bring on the 2009 NFL season!