April 28, 2011

Minnesota court declines Starcaps appeal

The Minnesota State Supreme Court declined to hear the appeal of Vikings DT Pat Williams in the years-old Starcaps litigation, a legal battle that has postponed four-game suspensions over two full NFL seasons.

DE Will Smith now faces a potential four-game suspension to start the season (whenever that is).  Smith could also face discipline from the league involving a domestic violence case in November.

The NFL, neck-deep in a legal battle with the players, did not comment on the case immediately.

News of the Starcaps suit originally broke in December of 2008, when Williams, his Viking teammate Kevin Williams, and fours Saints players were hit with suspensions.  Since then, three of those players are no longer on the team: Deuce McAllister, Jamar Nesbit and Charles Grant.

Starting RDE Will Smith remains the only active Saint with the suspension hanging over his head. McAllister has since retired while Nesbit and Grant are out of the league.

When the court declined to hear the Williams appeal, it cleared the way for the NFL to finally levy the suspensions of the players caught up in the Starcaps net.  While the Minnesota lawsuit was filed by and only concerned Pat and Kevin Williams, and later Kevin dropped out, the league decided not to enforce the suspensions on the Saints players until the Minnesota litigation was done.

The lawsuit, which used Minnesota labor law to challenge the league's suspensions, challenged the NFL's suspensions over the product Starcaps, which while being on the NFL's list of safe supplements, contained a banned supplement called bumetanide.  Bumetanide can be used as a masking agent for other performance-enhancing drugs.  Starcaps was sold as a Hollywood weight loss drug, containing diuretics.

The NFL hit all players with four-game suspensions in the 2008 season.

Saints G Jamar Nesbit did not appeal, and served the four game suspension.  Nesbit's absence left the job open to then-rookie Carl Nicks, who seized the starting left guard job and never looked back.

With the NFL Draft set to start in five hours, the Saints will certainly be looking at defensive ends.

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