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Minnesota law made the difference for the Williams Wall

Since many of you have found PFT only in the wake of our partnership with NBC, you wouldn’t have been hanging out here in May 2009 when the StarCaps case first came to a head.

As a result, we’re getting a lot of questions regarding the disparate outcome of today’s ruling, with two key members of the Vikings defensive line, Pat and Kevin Williams, avoiding four-game suspensions and two key members of the Saints defensive line, Will Smith and Charles Grant, facing two-game four-game suspensions.

The difference is simple, but it likely won’t make Saints fans feel any better.

The Minnesota Legislature has passed two drug-testing laws that operate separate and apart from the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NFL and its players union. These statutes provide extra protections, and the CBA did not take the Minnesota laws into account.

Louisiana law contains no such additional protections.

At the end of the process, both of the Minnesota laws might be interpreted as not applying to the present situation. But that won’t happen in the near future, given that the Hennepin County Ciruit Judge to whom the case has been assigned has indicated that a trial will not be held during during the 2009 season.

So Pat and Kevin Williams, barring an extremely unforeseen development, will be available for the full year.

Meanwhile, it’s now incumbent on the NFL to insert language into the drug policies to close this loophole in the future. The NFLPA undoubtedly will want a concession in exchange for any such tweaks to the testing procedures.