The NFL Players Assocation, in response to the NFL's criticism following a court ruling Friday involving potential suspensions of Vikings and Saints players, issued a statement Sunday morning, claiming it has and will continue to seek a resolution with the league to preserve the integrity of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
The NFL issued a statement Friday claiming the NFLPA did not stand behind "the program it negotiated with the league," by keeping silent after a federal appeals court in Minneapolis ruled Vikings players Pat and Kevin Williams could challenge their four-game suspensions in state court. Saints players Will Smith and Charles Grant, along with former Saints running back Deuce McAlister, remain subject to suspension because, unlike in Minnesota, there are no state laws in Louisiana allowing employees to challenge discipline for failed banned substance tests.
All five players tested positive for a banned substance in the StarCaps diuretic.
"The players objected to a system where the NFL can withhold information from its players and nonetheless punished the players for some something about which they were unaware," the NFLPA statement reads.
"What the NFL dismisses as mere silence, players challenged in the pursuit of fairness. Nonetheless, the NFL knows that the players continued to seek a mutual resolution of this issue up until this decision. The NFL's concern for uniformity is as important today as it was before the 8th Circuit's decision. We are reviewing the decision, but we continue to welcome the opportunity to discuss a resolution that is fair to all players."
The NFLPA has argued that the players never knew that StarCaps, which is used to shed water weight, contained Bumetanide, a banned substance that can mask steroid usage.
The bigger issue is that the NFL believes the rules of the Collective Bargaining Agreement apply, universally, and that no state or federal law can supersede its mutually bargained policies. Under those policies, all players who tested positive for Bumetanide are subject to suspension. The court ruling challenges that uniformity, which could lead to further court appeals by the NFL.
All players are eligible to play this weekend. The NFL said it will review the court ruling and decide whether to suspend the Saints players. Announcements on the league's future action could be forthcoming this week.