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Kevin and Pat Williams allowed to play all season

A state judge has issued an injunction prohibiting the NFL from suspending the Minnesota Vikings defensive tackles for violating the league's anti-doping policy.

September 12, 2009|Associated Press

A federal appeals court on Friday cleared the way for Minnesota Vikings Pat Williams and Kevin Williams to play all season, despite the NFL's attempts to suspend them for violating the league's anti-doping policy.

The NFL had already said the two defensive tackles could play in Sunday's opener at Cleveland because their court fight over the suspensions would not be decided in time.

"It's a big sigh of relief to know we're going to get to play the whole season," Kevin Williams said. "We were looking forward to Cleveland not knowing what the future may hold. But it's great to get it off of our shoulders in the season and know we can deal with it in the off-season."

The fight isn't over, but a three-judge panel of the U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld earlier decisions from a federal district court -- including one that says the remaining legal issues must be resolved in state court.

The judge there has issued an injunction prohibiting the NFL from suspending the players, and he has said a state trial during the 2009 season was unlikely.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said the league is troubled by the ruling, which says federal law doesn't preempt state law just because the parties are involved in a collective bargaining agreement.

Still no Seymour

The Oakland Raiders reportedly sent defensive lineman Richard Seymour a letter giving him until Tuesday to report to the team or face a possible season-long suspension.

The Boston Herald reported Friday that Seymour was hand-delivered the "five-day letter" on Thursday. If Seymour does not report to the Raiders by Tuesday, the team could put him on a suspended list that would prohibit him from playing for any team this season and roll over his contract for another year.

Seymour would then not be eligible for free agency next season. The Raiders would retain his rights in 2010 for $3.7 million.

Raiders Coach Tom Cable said he had no knowledge of a letter being sent. Oakland acquired Seymour from New England on Sunday for a 2011 first-round pick.

Branch's status uncertain

Receiver Deion Branch's ability to play in the Seattle Seahawks' opener against the St. Louis Rams on Sunday will be a game-time decision.

Branch appeared to injure his hamstring toward the end of practice on Monday, and he didn't practice all week. He did work out with a trainer on a separate field Friday.


Philadelphia Eagles right tackle Shawn Andrews will miss the opener against the Carolina Panthers because of a sore back. . . . The Cincinnati Bengals and Arizona Cardinals announced that their openers have been sold out in time to avoid a local blackout, and the Raiders received a 24-hour extension from the NFL.

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