Saturday, May 23, 2009

Williams' suspension likely to be upheld

In what seemed like an inevitability over the last few weeks, the NFL Players' Union lost its case against the makers of StarCaps, the dietary supplement that Pat Williams and Kevin Williams took that caused them to test positive for a banned substance last year. The ruling was delayed after a legal challenge, allowing the Williamses to finish out the 2008 season, but now the way is open for them to each face a four-game suspension in 2009.

I've already made my opinion on the subject known -- namely that the whole affair is more than a little shady -- and there's still a slim chance that the suspensions won't stick, but for now, Vikings fans are looking at the very real possibility that the Williams Wall won't suit up until nearly mid-October. The Vikings' early schedule, which previously looked rather soft, could now be a major obstacle for the team. If there's any consolation, it's that the four teams the Vikings face early -- Cleveland, Detroit, San Francisco, and Green Bay -- all ranked in the bottom half of the league in rushing last year, and only Green Bay could be considered "good" offensively, in general.

Still, even a poor team can look good when its opponent is missing one of its best defensive players. I'm referring, of course, to Kevin Williams, who's probably tied with Jared Allen for the best Viking defensive player. Pat Williams, as I've stated many times before, is overrated and one-dimensional. Yes, he's very good in that dimension (width -- er, I mean, stopping the run), but there are many other Vikings defenders I'd consider more valuable: Kevin Williams, Allen, Antoine Winfield, EJ Henderson, Chad Greenway, and maybe Madieu Williams and Cedric Griffin. A lot of people made a lot of noise when Pat Williams missed the last two games of the regular season last year and the Vikings gave up a lot of rushing yards against the Falcons and Giants. I merely pointed out that these were the #1 and #2 teams in rushing the ball for the entire season and that the Vikings held them to half a yard per carry under their season averages. Pat Williams is a lot of fun to watch, but he's in the middle of the pack when it comes to Vikings defensive players. Plus, if he returns for the fifth game of the season, he'll be just two weeks shy of his 37th birthday, so maybe the added "rest" wouldn't be the worst thing for him.

To be certain, this isn't the end of the world for the Vikings. The relatively soft schedule might allow the team to still come through with a 3-1 record and the one "tough" game, against Green Bay, is at the Metrodome. And maybe we won't even lose the Williamses, if a state judge still finds in favor of the players.

One thing I do know for sure, though: the makers of StarCaps are gonna get their pants sued off...

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