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NFL appealing federal judge's order on player suspensions

MINNEAPOLIS -- The NFL wants an appeals court to reconsider a federal judge's order that blocked the suspensions of five players for violating the league's anti-doping policy, according to court documents filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Minnesota.

Attorneys for the NFL filed notice that they were asking the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals to take up the issue after U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson in St. Paul, Minn., earlier this month cleared the way for Kevin Williams and Pat Williams of the Minnesota Vikings, and Charles Grant, Deuce McAllister and Will Smith of the New Orleans Saints to continue playing.

Magnuson had said he needed more time to consider the dispute between the NFL and the NFL Players Association.

Monday was the deadline for the parties to propose a schedule for further proceedings in the case.

The NFL also asked Monday that discovery proceedings before Magnuson be put off until the 8th Circuit Court makes a decision on the league's appeal.

The players each received four-game suspensions after testing positive for a banned diuretic -- bumetanide -- in the dietary supplement StarCaps.

Bumetanide can be used as a masking agent for steroids. Diuretics also are used to quickly shed weight. The StarCaps label didn't list the diuretic as an ingredient, and the players' union had argued the NFL didn't properly inform players about what it knew about StarCaps.

The NFL's attorneys have argued that claim, and others, had been considered and rejected in a process set out by the league's collective bargaining agreement.

Magnuson's initial ruling Dec. 5, and another ruling Dec. 11, allowed the players to rejoin their teams for the rest of the season. Barring a quick reversal by the appeals court, it's likely at least Kevin Williams would play for the Vikings if the team makes the playoffs. Pat Williams is out with a broken bone in his right shoulder. He missed Sunday's loss to the Atlanta Falcons and also will sit out when the Vikings play the New York Giants this Sunday.

Pat Williams has said he hopes to return to his team for the first potential playoff game in January.

The Saints have been eliminated from playoff contention.

In other court filings Monday, the union proposed a schedule for proceedings that would delay a decision on the suspensions for more than three months -- well after the Feb. 1 Super Bowl.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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