NFL appeals judge’s ruling on Williamses

The NFL filed notice Tuesday in Minneapolis that it plans to appeal a federal judge’s ruling in the case of two Minnesota Vikings players facing suspensions over positive drug tests.

U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson last week threw out most of the claims by Vikings defensive tackles Kevin Williams and Pat Williams. He also dismissed a lawsuit brought by the NFL players’ union on behalf of the Williamses and three New Orleans Saints players also facing suspension.

But Magnuson sent the Williamses’ two remaining claims to state court.

In Tuesday’s filing, the NFL said it ask the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals to review whether Magnuson misapplied federal law when he didn’t dismiss those two claims outright.

The NFL Players Association and the Williamses say NFL officials knew a weight-loss supplement called StarCaps contained the banned diuretic bumetanide back in 2006, even though it wasn’t listed on the label, and that the league should have notified players and federal regulators. The NFL bans bumetanide because it can be used as a masking agent for steroids.

The Williamses were not accused of taking steroids.

The Williamses, who are not related, are seeking to have their four-game suspensions overturned, as well as monetary damages. An injunction allowing the Williamses to continue playing remains in place.

In his ruling Friday, Magnuson said the NFL’s policy is clear: Players are responsible for what they put in their bodies, and inadvertently ingesting a banned substance is not an excuse.

But the judge sent back to state court the Williamses’ claims involving Minnesota laws on when and how employers can require their employees to submit to drug testing, and prohibiting Minnesota employers from disciplining employees for using a legal substance offsite during nonworking hours.

Brady back at practice

Tom Brady practiced with the New England Patriots for the first time since suffering a season-ending knee injury in last season’s opening game.

Brady and nearly the entire team participated in the first of four days of this week’s voluntary organized team activities in Foxborough, Mass., Patriots spokesman Stacey James said.

The only media access for this week’s sessions is Thursday. James said Brady threw passes and did other activities during his first formal practice with the club since he suffered a torn left knee ligament midway through the first quarter of the Patriots 17-10 win over the Kansas City Chiefs.

Extra points

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said veteran pass rusher Greg Ellis would be traded or released. Jones said the decision came after a meeting with the 33-year-old Ellis, who has been with the team since his rookie season in 1998. He had eight sacks last year, 77 in his career. … The Cleveland Browns have signed free agent cornerback Rod Hood, a starter for Arizona in last season’s Super Bowl.