New Orleans Saints: NFL suspends DE Will Smith two games
By Keith Null
It’s not the greatest news for the New Orleans Saints but it appears that finally the StarCaps case involving several former Saints players, and current starting defensive end Will Smith, is finally coming to an end.
Today the NFL announced a two game suspension for Smith and Minnesota Viking defensive tackle Kevin Williams for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. They where also fined an additional two game checks.
They ingested StarCaps — a weight loss supplement that contained the banned diuretic Bumetanide.
Smith, along with former teammates Charles Grant, Deuce McAllister and Jamar Nesbit, all tested positive for the diuretic three seasons ago.
The issue that has prevented swift punishment is the multiple lawsuits brought against the NFL by the players involved. They claim the NFL cleared the supplement to take knowing it contained a banned ingredient.
The NFL said it didn’t matter as players are responsible for what they put into their bodies. There is no gray area when it comes to the substance abuse policy and violators will be disciplined accordingly.
Vikings defensive tackles Kevin and Pat Williams also tested positive for the banned substance around the same time as the Saints players, but unlike Smith were able to circumvent the NFL’s ruling by filing an appeal in a Minnesota Federal Court.
The appeal effectively blocked the NFL’s proposed four game suspensions at the start of last season.
In fairness the NFL thought it not in their best interest to punish just Smith and not the Williams’, deciding not to suspend anyone until the ruling was made.
That ruling came this past Febuary when the court decided it could not legally block the NFL’s suspension, thus clearing the way for Commissioner Roger Goodell to lower the gavel and finally suspend the guilty parties.
Given the unstable nature of this NFL off-season their suspensions were put on the back burner during the lockout and lengthy CBA negotiations.
It seems odd though that they would wait until just six days before the Saints visit the Packers to kick-0ff the 2011 season to make the announcement.
Behind Smith on the depth chart is defensive end Jeff Charleston, a fan favorite and serviceable replacement, although the general consensus is that he can be a liability defending the run.
Then there is Junior Galette, a second year undrafted rookie, who is very promising but too raw to be utilized anymore than as a situational defender.