September 11, 2009

Minnesota federal court ruling may impact Grant, Smith suspensions

The federal appeals court ruling in Minnesota has been announced, and while we are not lawyers, here's our interpretation.

Based on Minnesota law, the two players for the Vikings have won the right to a trial after the season. The NFL likely won't suspend the Minnesota players until the outcome of that trial, which won't start until 2010.

The appeals court upheld the lower court's ruling that the NFL had the right to suspend the five players (two Vikings, Saints DE's Charles Grant and Will Smith, an former Saint Deuce McAllister) for four games. So the suspensions are legal, though the Williamses are protected by a restraining order against the NFL in Minnesota courts.

Since Grant and Smith weren't part of the lawsuit in Minnesota, but were merely affected by its decisions in the league's eyes and possible precedent the ruling could have on separate legal action, their suspensions won't go away unless the league decides to be extremely generous.

Basically, the league has prevailed in the right to suspend, and the Williamses have prevailed in their right to sue the NFL over its drug testing policy (UPDATE:) using a Minnesota state law as ammunition.

We'll update this as more comes out, but for now it looks like the NFL will go ahead and suspend Grant and Smith after this Sunday's game against the Lions. They would then be unavailable against the Eagles, Bills, Jets and Giants.

Note that the suspension is for four games, not four weeks. The players will remain suspended during the Saints' bye week.

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