As the NFL prepares to go to court to argue for the dismissal of Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott‘s lawsuit on the basis that it was filed before his suspension was finalized, his suspension possibly will not be finalized before the court hearing begins.
And all that that implies.
The NFL has announced (again, any “report” from a reporter employed by the league on league matters will from now on be regarded in this space as an announcement) that arbitrator Harold Henderson possibly will not make his decision on Elliott’s appeal on Tuesday, due to the “volume of material.” And this causes me to suspect the existence of a certain volume of material. Brown in color and smelly in fragrance.
Some (including me) wonder whether the league has told Henderson to stand down, so that the league can go to court at 6:00 p.m. ET and argue that the dispute isn’t ripe because the ruling hasn’t been issued. If the ruling is issued before then, the judge could easily say to the league’s lawyers, “Your argument is moot.”
The first whiff of what’s to come came earlier today, when the NFL put out the word (again, announced) that the longstanding practice of finalizing player suspensions by 4:00 p.m. ET on a Tuesday is not a rule, per se. This allows the NFL to: (1) argue that Elliott’s lawsuit should be dismissed because the suspension isn’t final; (2) finalize the suspension after the hearing; and (3) implement it immediately.
And then there are Steps No. 4, 5, and 6: Prepare their own lawsuit aimed at enforcing the suspension for filing in federal court in Manhattan, instruct Henderson to let them know precisely when he’s applying his signature to the decision letter, and win the race to the courthouse.