The StarCaps legal case involving Vikings defensive tackles Kevin and Pat Williams finally is over.
The state Supreme Court declined to review a Feb. 8 ruling by the Minnesota Court of Appeals that cleared the way for the NFL to suspend the Williamses for four games for taking a banned diuretic.
Pat Williams had petitioned the Supreme Court to review that decision while Kevin Williams dropped his legal fight in March. The case, which began in December 2008, is now over, and the Williamses face the prospect of starting the 2011 season with a four-game suspension.
Kevin and Pat Williams did not respond to messages.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said at the owners meetings that the suspensions for all the players involved in the original StarCaps case would not go into effect until the case was resolved. That's why Kevin Williams faces his suspension now, too.
It's unknown whether the players' suspensions can or will be reduced by the league through some sort of negotiation. As of now, Kevin Williams stands to lose about $1.4 million of his $6 million base salary for the 2011 season.
Pat Williams is a free agent and it seems doubtful he will return to the Vikings, although coach Leslie Frazier has said he would like to have the 38-year-old nose tackle back. Pat Williams has said he would like to play two more seasons.
The decision means the Vikings now have a depth issue at defensive tackle. The Vikings have only three other defensive tackles under contract on the roster: Jimmy Kennedy, Letroy Guion and Tremaine Johnson.
The Williamses admitted taking StarCaps -- which contains the banned diuretic bumetanide -- to lose weight in order to reach contract incentives.
Hennepin County District Judge Gary Larson ruled in May that the NFL violated state law requiring three-day notice but that the players weren't harmed.
The Appeals Court declined to block the NFL suspensions because the diuretic the players tested positive for does not fall under the state's workplace drug-testing laws. But the three-judge panel also noted that the NFL is subject to state law when testing players for other drugs that are covered, such as anabolic steroids.
Playing it safe
Vikings vice president of player personnel Rick Spielman made it clear before the draft that he wanted to try and get a third-round pick by trading down from No. 12 if possible. But when Washington (No. 10) and Jacksonville (No. 16) traded picks, Spielman said the Vikings didn't want to trade down that far because they knew the Redskins wanted a quarterback and might take Florida State's Christian Ponder.
The Vikings stayed put and took Ponder at No. 12.
"What we were looking at was when Washington traded back to No. 16, knowing that they would potentially take a quarterback in that spot, we didn't want to go beyond that point," Spielman said. "We tried to look at some options of moving back, but we did not have any takers when we were on the clock. We were put in a situation where we had a couple good players at other positions on our board, but we had the quarterback rated right up there with those other positions. You very rarely get a chance to take a swing at a young quarterback, and we felt that it was a no-brainer to take Christian Ponder."
Staff writer Judd Zulgad contributed to this report.