The National Football League got a favorable ruling Thursday in its attempt to suspend two Minnesota Vikings players.
Lawyers representing Pat and Kevin Williams say they will appeal the decision of a Hennepin County District Court judge, and the players' attorneys renewed their effort to block the NFL from imposing the suspensions.
Hennepin County District Court Judge Gary Larson issued a mixed ruling in the Williams' case of versus the NFL. The suit stems from a decision by the NFL to suspend the Williams for four games in 2008 after they both tested positive for a banned substance.
The players sued the NFL and claimed the league violated state drug and alcohol testing laws. They got an injunction to delay the suspensions while their case worked through the courts.
Larson ruled that the league failed to notify the players of their test results within a three-day period, as required under state law.
But Larson nevertheless lifted the injunction on the league-imposed suspensions.
Williams' attorney Stephen Rau said that doesn't make sense. "We were somewhat confused in the sense that the judge said that the NFL violated Minnesota law, but that he was going to allow the NFL to enforce this policy that violated Minnesota law," Rau said.
Larson's ruling points to testimony from the players that the months-long delay in notification of their drug test results didn't cause them personal harm.
Rau says that shouldn't matter. "The statute -- and this is an argument for the court of appeals and for the judge in the post-trial findings -- doesn't say that if there's no harm, that it's OK if you violate it."
Throughout the trial, NFL officials have maintained that the league's drug policy is fair, partially because it was agreed upon by representatives of the players' union.
In a written statement, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello says the league will continue to administer a "strong, effective program on performance-enhancing drugs that applies on a uniform basis to all players in all states."
Now the players' attorneys are preparing to appeal their case to the state's court of appeals. But first they will try to convince Judge Larson to maintain the injunction against the four-game suspensions. NFL lawyers say the suspensions should remain because the players appeal will likely fail.
Both sides will present their arguments next week. Larson is expected make a decision a week after that.