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Suspensions could cost Vikes NFC North
Posted Dec. 02 at 06:30 AM
Consider the NFC North race to be wide open.
That's the fallout from the league office's long-awaited decision to suspend six players for violating the policy against performance-enhancing drugs.
Deuce McAllister is the biggest name on the list, but the key players are Minnesota's two big defensive tackles, Pat Williams and Kevin Williams. Without those guys, one of the league's best run defenses will become a lot softer. (Why, Chicago fans are moaning, couldn't have this decision been announced prior to a pivotal goal-line stand on Sunday night in the Metrodome).
The Williams boys are out for the remainder of the season. This enhances the chances of the Bears or Packers being able to steal the division title. Both of those teams have easy remaining schedules, while the Vikings have three tough games left -- Atlanta, at Arizona and at the Giants. (As a subplot, it makes that Atlanta-Minnesota far more interesting in terms of potentially determining the NFL's rushing champ; Adrian Peterson and Michael Turner look like the two favorites right now -- now Turner won't have to face the Williamses).
As I mentioned a day or two back, if the Packers (who are two games back) are able to pull into a tie with the Vikings, they would win the NFC North with a better divisional record. The Packers also could win a tie with Chicago via a head-to-head sweep (if they can win at Soldier Field in pivotal week 16 Monday night game).
The Saints also lost two defensive linemen: Charles Grant and Will Smith. Grant had already been placed on injured reserve with a triceps injury a month ago. Losing Smith will further damage a defense that's had too many breakdowns this season.
The NFL release can be seen at NFL.com.
Posted by Duane Stay | Dec. 02 at 08:03 AM
There's much controvery about the water pills that the Williams wall took. These are big fat guys that were only trying to keep their weight down, not covering up steroids. The courts will probably be involved very soon. It can be said that they should have been more careful, but the NFL was very vague about things that could have caused confusion. If this suspension is upheld the Minnesota franchise will suffer a terrible blow and it can only come back to also harm the NFL!
Posted by IAN ALLAN | Dec. 02 at 11:43 AM
I didn't really address the question of whether it was right or wrong. I kind of assumed folks new the background and were more interested in the fantasy impact. But I agree with Duane. Given what I've heard about this particular case, four-game suspensions seem overly severe. All six players were taking the same supplement. The banned drug wasn't listed as an ingredient. They all thought they were taking a legal product. It will certain cause ill will in the Twin Cities (and fairly so) if this decisions winds up costing Minnesota a playoff berth.
Posted by Roy Sherman | Dec. 02 at 08:55 PM
I agree that the four-game suspension is a bit severe, but I don't think the NFL could've let them off with just a warning either. Without any suspension, this would just open the door for "suppliers" putting in all kinds of banned substances without listing them in the ingredients and providing it to players everywhere.
Posted by Richard Loppnow | Dec. 03 at 02:22 AM
What I've read elsewhere is there was a certified substitute available that they could've taken at no risk at all. And yet they chose to take these. Roy has nailed it. Except I sure see no presumption of 'innocence' here at all. Taking a non-approved supplement - knowingly taking a non-approved supplement - so as to lose weight you'll put right back on with your next glass of water. And the banned ingredient reportedly has NO! medical purpose other than to mask steroid use.
Posted by Duane Stay | Dec. 04 at 07:46 AM
Yes, They chose wrong just like we do making our picks every week. They thought they were using a certified substitute. OK, What if Campbells soups doesn't list everything on their ingredient list and you eat it? There'd be no NFL left! They are penalizing these players like they're cocaine, steroid users or gun toters.
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