Williamses keep focus on Vikings camp, not potential suspensions

MANKATO, Minn. -- If the waiting is the hardest part, Kevin Williams and Pat Williams haven't shown it.

The Minnesota Vikings' defensive tackles are still seeking resolution to their fight against the NFL's attempt to issue them a four-game suspension for use of the now-infamous weight-loss supplement StarCaps.

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More than eight months after news of their positive tests first broke, the Williamses find themselves in continued limbo.

"I just keep on praying on it. That's all I'm going to do. Whatever happens happens," Pat Williams said after Tuesday's training-camp practice, teasing Adrian Peterson on his way off the field about all the kids screaming for the running back's autograph.

"Hopefully it will be over soon, and we can move on," Kevin Williams said. "I'm not going to even worry about it."

The state judge involved in the case has said he'll decide this week whether to put the players' lawsuit on hold at the league's request, while a federal appeals court considers other issues, including input from other major sports leagues.

The NFL wants the suspensions, originally handed out last season, to start with Minnesota's opener on Sept. 13, but the league would rather the federal appeals be resolved first before further proceedings at the state level to avoid conflicting rulings.

The players' attorney is pushing for a trial before the regular season begins. If that's not possible, they want it delayed again until the season is over.

The Williamses have acknowledged taking StarCaps, which contained an unlisted but illegal ingredient called bumetanide that can mask the presence of steroids. However, they're not accused of taking steroids.

Their original lawsuit was dismissed in federal court, but their claims that the suspensions would violate Minnesota employment laws were sent back to state court. The NFL didn't tell players that StarCaps contained the banned substance, but it claims that players are responsible for what they take and that the collective bargaining agreement that is in place should dictate the punishment.


No wonder the Williamses' focus is on football. Their case is almost too complicated to think about anyway.

"We don't worry about that," teammate Ray Edwards said. "It's just no issue for us. We know who they are, and that's what matters the most. They come out here and play every day. That's the Pat and Kevin I've been seeing for the last three years."

Defensive end Jared Allen refuses to dwell on the what-if possibility, either.

"We're professionals. You're not supposed to get distracted," Allen said. "Things are going to happen. This is the NFL. People are going to get replaced year in and year out. It's just part of the job."

For as much attention Brett Favre's will-he-or-won't-he saga received over the last three months as the still-retired quarterback mulled the opportunity to come to Minnesota, the uncertainty of the Williamses' status has dragged on much longer. It's an equally important issue, too.

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"We would like for it to come to an end and put it behind us," Vikings defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said. "I know for their sake they would like to put it behind them and not miss any time. Hopefully it will come to a resolution pretty soon here. Hopefully we aren't going into September not knowing if these guys will be suspended."

If so, Letroy Guion, Fred Evans and Jimmy Kennedy would be next in line to fill the spots. Frazier said he's confident in those players' abilities.

"It will be a bit of a drop-off," Frazier said. "It will be hard to replace Pat and Kevin, because those are Hall of Fame defensive tackles. We feel confident we will still be able to play good defense with those other guys in the game."

Vikings coach Brad Childress was asked if he has seen the Williamses' performance suffer from the uncertainty.

"I have never seen them in the fetal position by their lockers or anything of that nature, or them being unable to come in from their car," Childress said, having some fun with the question. "They are taking care of all the business they need to take care of. They don't let it be a distraction, and they have handled it with a minimal amount of missed time."

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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