Roger Goodell has put the NFL in a difficult spot with his ridiculous 6-game suspension for Dallas Cowboys star running back Ezekiel Elliott, and now the league is going to pay the price in the court of public opinion.
As NFL arbitrator Harold Henderson takes his time to render a decision on Elliott’s appeal, the Dallas running back has filed a lawsuit in Texas. According to CBS, they accused the league of conspiring to keep him off the field:
The petition claims that Elliott’s suspension, even after appeal, was a “product of a process that has already deprived the Union and Elliott of fundamental fairness,” “one of the most fundamentally unfair arbitral processes conceivable” and part of a “League-orchestrated conspiracy by senior NFL executives … to hide critical information.”
Furthermore, the petition states that the “conspiracy” to “hide critical information” was designed to hide said information from Roger Goodell, his outside advisors on the Elliott discipline, the NFLPA and Elliott, the Dallas Cowboys and NFL fans.
The Player’s Association aired a number of other grievances in the suit, saying Elliott was unable to formally confront his ex or examine any notes that the NFL compiled during conversations with the accuser.
“They’re trying to create a grand conspiracy story where none exists,” league spokesman Joe Lockhart told NFL.com on Friday.
Lockhart also disputed key aspects of a report by The Fort Worth Star-Telegram on Thursday: that Lisa Friel, the league’s senior vice president of investigations, barred Roberts from the meeting in which Friel recommended a six-game suspension to Commissioner Roger Goodell; and that Roberts testified in the appeal hearing that she recommended no discipline.
Asked if it would be common for an investigator to make a disciplinary recommendation in such a case, Lockhart said: “No. In fact, at Kia’s level, she wouldn’t, and she didn’t. She made her point of view on particularly the credibility issues known in the report; they are reflected in the report. It is the commissioner and the commissioner’s sole role to decide on discipline. In fact, the union filed a grievance to force him not to delegate the decision” on disciplinary decisions under the personal conduct policy that was strengthened in Dec. 2014.
That’s very wordy and boring, but this is one question Roger Goodell should have to answer: If the NFL’s lone investigator recommended no suspension, how did the commish come upon his decision to give Elliott six games?