Yesterday, U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson ruled that Pat and Kevin Williams won’t be suspended this season. Here’s the most significant news from the article:

Ginsberg refused to comment on if he had been in talks with the NFL about a settlement. The judge said the players union had shown it likely will succeed on its claims that NFL breached its duty to the players by failing to share what it knew about StarCaps.

The NFL didn’t claim that they’d supplied this critical information. Instead, they hid behind the claim that the CBA says that players are ultimately responsible for what they put in their bodies. Judge Magnuson just disagreed with the NFL in the strongest terms possible.

Saying that the “NFL breached its duty to the players by failing to share what it knew about StarCaps” says that the league has an affirmative responsibility to the NFLPA and to its players. PERIOD. Saying that the players would likely win their lawsuit put the NFL on its heels. The NFL’s response seems to indicate that they knew they’d lose:

Greg Aiello, the NFL’s senior vice president of public relations, called Magnuson’s ruling, “consistent with the approach the judge has taken in giving careful consideration to these issues, which we fully respect.”

If the NFL thought they’d been wronged by this ruling, they would’ve appealed the ruling. That they didn’t is telling. I’m not a lawyer but it sounds like Judge Magnuson wants the NFL and the NFLPA to work out some sort of agreement on this issue:

Magnuson urged both parties to reach a solution. If that does not happen, the judge will preserve the status quo until he can hold a full evidentiary hearing on the case. He gave both sides until Dec. 22 to try to negotiate a proposed schedule for filing papers ahead of that hearing. He will determine the schedule himself if that fails to occur but he did not set a hearing date.

I think this is a positive step forward because it’s telling the NFL and the NFLPA that neither side might like the remedy he fashions for this lawsuit. One thing that is certain is that he’s upset with the NFL:

Because there are substantial questions about the process used to suspend the players, Magnuson said, they would suffer irreparable harm by being suspended. And if the suspensions are improper, he said, allowing them to go forward would violate the public interest.

Peter Ginsberg, the New York-based lawyer for the Williamses, isn’t letting the NFL off the hook easy either:

“It is disturbing that NFL officials thought so little about the health and safety of the players, deciding to attempt to punish the players, who were deceived by NFL officials, rather than to review the league’s shortcomings and failings,” Ginsberg said.

The NFL didn’t want to admitt that they screwed up by not sharing the information about StarCaps with the NFLPA. Whether they admit it now, it’s painfully obvious that that’s what they did. Their claims that player safety is first and foremost ring a little hollow. Here’s what says about diuretics:

Diuretics, sometimes called water pills, help rid your body of sodium and water. They work by making your kidneys excrete more sodium in urine. The sodium, in turn, takes water with it from your blood. That decreases the amount of fluid flowing through your blood vessels, which reduces pressure on the walls of your arteries.

I can’t help but think that artificially removing large amounts of water from a body is anything but harmful. The NFL have physicians on retainer just like they have lawyers on retainer. I’d doubt that those physicians didn’t tell them that diuretics weren’t potentially harmful. Here in Vikingland, we remember the tragic death of Korey Stringer. Officially, Stringer had taken ephedrine, which likely contributed to his death via heatstroke and finally heart failure. Here’s what Dr. Phil Kaplan wrote about ephedrine:

Ephedrine also has a diuretic effect and it alters neurotransmission to minimize appetite. The end result is often less food intake and a body that is cranking up in high gear. Calorie deprivation is NOT an effective way to boost metabolism, yet many who depend on these ephedrine based supplements for weight loss wind up using it as an aid in simply minimizing caloric intake. Residual water loss contributes to the illusion that it is really having a very significant effect on fat loss.

In other words, the NFL and NFLPA have long known that diuretics can cause serious harm, even death.

It’s incumbent on both the NFL and NFLPA to reach an agreement on the future handling of situations like this. It isn’t unreasonable to think that Pat and Kevin Williams and the New Orleans Saints players that the NFL tried to suspend should be punished for their taking StarCaps. It’s just that this punishment shouldn’t be a suspension for a first time offense. A fine would ‘fit the crime’ better. Let’s hope that cooler heads prevail in the next couple of months.

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