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Dr. Starcaps. Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Legal Process

Okay, so judge Gary Larson (no relation to the former Purple People Eater) gave his ruling regarding the Starcaps case.   Me trying to wade into serious legalese and then break it down into common, easy to understand language is a lot like asking John Wayne to read The Vagina Monologues---it just ain't gonna happen, pil-grum.  So I did the next best thing.  I contacted Mr. GrahamFiller10, a blogger (and lawyer) over at the SB blog The Rivalry, Esq (THE Quintessential Big 10 Smoking Room), to help break this down.  Thanks, Graham!  And if you're a Big 10 fan, check the site out.  It's a great place to talk Big 10 athletics, and most recently, Big 10 expansion.  Anyways, let's break down in just a few paragraphs what the Honorable Judge Larson had to say in his 44 page brief.  Counselor Graham, you may be gratuitously plagairized, by me.  After the jump, of course.  Oh, all the serious legal stuff from here on out is from GrahamFIller10.  All the smart ass stuff interspersed between the serious legal stuff is me.  But you probably figured that out.

The bottom line in this is that if the court finds the Vikings to be the employers of Pat and Kevin Williams, the Williams', I mean the Williamses, I mean the Williamsii...whatever... loses the case and they will be suspended four games.  BOOO NFL, hooray beer!!  The league argues the Vikings employ the players by contracting for their services. The Williamses counter the NFL is responsible for establishing playing rules and disciplining players under the anti-doping policy, and therefore they are employees of the NFL, which is basically the crux of the issue.  So if the trial finds them to be employees of the NFL, the Williams Wall wins, and won't be suspended.  But that guarantees that the NFL will appeal.

The actual key lies not in the fact that the Williams can stop the suspension (although that's important), but that this comes down to State Law v. Union/NFL labor policies.  The NFL, because it's awesome (except in this case, where they are an all powerful corporate whore trying to put down the working man), usually views itself as the king dog when it comes to dishing out discipline. And they can be, frankly, because of the bargaining agreement and their tremendous reach. But the key here is the State Law provisions - if the NFL is forced to adhere to Minnesota's provisions, they will have to comply with state law in EVERY state that an NFL team resides.  If the Williams Wall wins this case, that means the NFL would now have to apply state drug testing laws, not what was collectively bargained, and those vary tremendously from state to state, which is why this is such a landmark case. 

There are two key phrases that are also big players here:  "undue burden" and "commerce clause".  This breaks down, essentially, to a two step process:

1) Corporations, governments, larger entities...all set up wide-reaching rules and procedures. If a State's rules are too stringent or defeat that entities rules, the State's rules will be struck down.

2) In this case, the Judge said "I don't think that the state of Minnesota's rules are too strict."

So basically, this issue goes to a jury trial.  In Minnesota, the home of the Vikings.  Where Viking fans live.  I'm not saying it's a rigged jury, but although Graham eventually thinks the Williamses will lose, I'm not so sure.  In the hands of a jury, anything can happen.  And Minnesota is a very liberal, labor friendly state, ao anything can happen.

And because of the precedent this will set, expect the NFL to appeal, all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary, to try and keep the Williams Wall from prevailing.

Anyways, thanks again the GrahamFiller10 from The Rivalry, esq., for making this much easier to understand.