Black and Blue all over: StarCaps case takes step

Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert
Thursday marks the next step in the legal case of Minnesota defensive tackles Kevin Williams and Pat Williams, who are suing the NFL to overturn their four-game suspensions after testing positive for a banned substance last summer.

A motion for summary judgment will be heard in U.S. District Court in St. Paul, a hearing that essentially asks Judge Paul Magnuson if he is willing to decide the case based on the information he already has. If he does, the case could conceivably end Thursday. If not, the trial will remain scheduled for June 15.

Quick review: Both players reportedly ingested bumetanide through a weight-loss supplement known as StarCaps. Bumetanide is banned because it can serve a masking agent to avoid the detection of steroid use. The players are suing on the grounds that the NFL didn't properly warn them of its knowledge of StarCaps' true ingredients.

Brian Murphy of the St. Paul Pioneer Press produced a package of stories Thursday on the topic, including this one on the background of celebrity/socialite Nikki Haskell, who marketed StarCaps.

We'll do our best to keep you updated throughout the day as we navigate through a few top-secret meetings. Continuing around the NFC North:

  • Retired quarterback Brett Favre and Vikings offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell have been speaking regularly since Favre was released by the New York Jets last month, writes Sid Hartman of the Star Tribune.

  • Chicago general manager Jerry Angelo provided this explanation for his offensive philosophy to Matt Bowen of the National Football Post: "Our assumption is that it starts with the quarterback, and not the wide receivers. All you have to do is look north and see what Favre did with his receivers in Green Bay. I don't care who you gave Favre because they always looked good." I wonder what Sterling Sharpe and Antonio Freeman would say about that. Angelo also said he thought Minnesota needed more consistency from its quarterback.

  • Tom Pelissero of the Green Bay Press-Gazette examines how difficult it will be for a young receiver to crack the Packers' roster.

  • The Packers franchise turns 90 this summer, writes Martin Hendricks of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

  • Detroit tailback Kevin Smith didn't back down (much) Wednesday from his prediction that the Lions will make the playoffs, according to David Birkett of the Oakland Press. Smith: "I didn't predict any wins, I didn't say we're going to win this amount of games. My whole point was we're good enough to get to the playoffs, and if we get to the playoffs anything can happen."

  • Michael Silver of Yahoo! Sports mocks Smith and the Lions recent history of making bold predictions.