Henderson’s decision perfunctory, technical

AP

In the Ezekiel Elliott case, arbitrator Harold Henderson distilled hundreds of pages of transcripts and documents down to an eight-page ruling that was neither surprising nor unexpected.

The official decision can accurately be summarized as follows: The Commissioner reached his decision in compliance with the terms of the Personal Conduct Policy, so it’s affirmed.

It’s a simple, dot-connecting exercise that makes it easy to shrug at various procedural defects and irregularities. The Commissioner didn’t personally observe the credibility of the witnesses? He didn’t need to. The Commissioner didn’t invite to the person who interviewed the accuser six times to a meeting aimed at helping him reach a decision? He didn’t need to. The accuser wasn’t required to testify at the appeal hearing? She didn’t need to.

The ruling makes no real effort to deal with obvious irregularities and oddities in the situation, like Director of Investigations Kia Roberts (who doubted the accuser’s credibility and believed Elliott shouldn’t be suspended) being excluded from multiple key meetings. Instead, Henderson paints with a broad brush, displays no curiosity or skepticism about the circumstances demonstrated during the appeal hearing (including the dismantling of the notion that injuries could be characterized and dated only by photos), and ultimately applies the kind of rubber stamp that a truly independent arbitrator never would have banged onto the paper.

It now remains to be seen whether Elliott can get the suspension overturned in court. The first battle focuses on delaying the suspension while the litigation unfolds. Then will come the attack on the decision. The former will take a couple of days; the latter will take at least several months.

35 responses to “Henderson’s decision perfunctory, technical

  1. Henderson’s ” hearing ” was in a very real sense a sham. Why did he even hold a hearing and allow
    testimony. His decision was based solely on a ” legal ” review not a review of any supposed
    procedural errors or in any way to determine if the testimony relied upon was accurate and
    credible. He reviewed no factual evidence. In short Henderson was just a delusory puppet.
    He should be ashamed. . How can a true arbitrator ignore testimony that
    it is impossible to determine the age of bruising that was essentially upheld by the NFL’s
    own expert. . How can a true arbitrator ignore testimony that the only person
    to evaluate the victims credibilty believed the testimony not be credible.
    The appeal hearing was a total sham. Nothing he based his decision on
    had anything to do with the appeal hearing. All he needed to do was
    read Goodell’s opinion and just say .. ” well, even though they offered
    false forensic info and even though their main witness was found to be
    a liar ….all that matters is they held a hearing …

  2. The “NFL case” against Elliott is based on two issues. The NFL could not find any alternative circumstance whereby Ms. Thompson got her bruises other than by Elliott. The NFL finds Elliott engaged in a pattern of behavior (e.g. publicly exposing a woman’s breast) that violated the NFL’s personal conduct policy.

    The issue of publicly exposing a woman’s breast during St. Patrick’s day occurred when Elliott “the NFL employee” was “off the clock”. He was not arrested and the woman filed no charges. Where is the foul and harm if the woman sees none and the police see none? This is a PR issue, period!

    The “how did the bruises arise if not from Elliott” conclusion makes sense UNTIL you understand the following facts submitted by Elliot’s defense team: “… both the Columbus Prosecutor’s office as well as the NFL investigators expressly concluded and conveyed to our office (and others) that the accuser was lying about an alleged July 22, 2016 incident whereby she accused Mr. Elliott of pulling her out of her car and assaulting her. An allegation that was ultimately undermined by her own friend’s affidavit which stated that no such assault occurred. The affidavit also outlined the accuser’s plan to orchestrate a story to police to in order to corroborate her false allegation of assault. In addition, the NFL’s own medical experts concluded that many of her injuries predated the week in question and likely occurred during a period of time when Mr. Elliott was not in contact with the accuser.”

    The NFL has made an egregious mistake and I am confident the courts will reach the same conclusion.

  3. As I said a while ago, this is not about the NFL proving that Elliott is guilty but rather about the NFL finding just enough proof to believe that Elliott may be guilty. Unless Elliott’s lawyers can prove that there is absolutely nothing at all to make the NFL think so then this is a lost cause because no one can determine how much is enough for the NFL other than the NFL itself. If the Commissioner claims that after reviewing everything he thinks that more likely than not Elliott may be guilty then the court cannot tell him what to think.

  4. This is just the tip of the iceberg, but this sure looks like frame up! This whole thing was a sham with a conclusion already waiting for Mr. Henderson to sign off on it.
    Workplace harassment.Something has to be done to stop this craziness…Can’t the feds or someone step in?

  5. If the players don’t like this they need to take this power away when the labor deal is up. If they don’t, then who cares if they continue this process as is. The fact is I highly doubt the players will consider missing games when the next labor negotiations start.

  6. ttomfor1 says:
    September 6, 2017 at 8:11 am
    If the players don’t like this they need to take this power away when the labor deal is up. If they don’t, then who cares if they continue this process as is. The fact is I highly doubt the players will consider missing games when the next labor negotiations start.

    1 0 Rate This

    ———–

    Has nothing to do with the labor deal. Goodell hijacked what Article 46 means and has no integrity.

    Please learn facts.

  7. this is a joke, he committed domestic assault and she threatened to take him for all hes got as a result. She may be a back stabbing gold digger, but he still did the act. Her being crazy isn’t a justifiable reason… there really aren’t any justifiable reasons, and under the policy first time offenders is 6 games…seems pretty cut and dry to me

  8. Been avid NFL fan for my whole life. (And I’m old)
    This whole debacle is literally sickening.
    Thought I would never say it but stuff like this has progressivly made me loose interest.

    Cancelled my Sunday Ticket.
    Not really excited about season starting. The NFL has tarnished its own shield.
    I think tv ratings will continue to drop.

  9. This article explains exactly how arbitration works .The arbitrator’s job is to ensure that the issue in front of him or her adheres to the CBA or is a violation of it . Credibility of any witness or lack of evidence aren’t taken into account only the issue of the NFL’s right to hand out the punishment per the CBA . Once again it’s clear that Smith failed the players by allowing such a broad discipline policy with virtually no checks and balances exist because he failed to include any language to address it in the CBA . Saying all this money and influence can still buy justice so a reduction is still possible but like the Brady case if the legality of the CBA is truly followed there is no real legal basis for a reduction .

  10. bringin1234 says:
    September 6, 2017 at 8:30 am

    this is a joke, he committed domestic assault and she threatened to take him for all hes got as a result. She may be a back stabbing gold digger, but he still did the act. Her being crazy isn’t a justifiable reason… there really aren’t any justifiable reasons, and under the policy first time offenders is 6 games…seems pretty cut and dry to me
    ————————–

    Lisa Friel, Giants fan, recommended that Josh Brown get 1 game and Ezekial Elliott get 6 games, so you are correct, this is a joke.

  11. It was an open and shut case. No one has articulated any earthly reason why the League would conspire against Elliot or the Cowboys.

  12. It was an open and shut case. No one has offered any credible reason as to why the NFL would bother conspiring against either Elliot or the Cowboys.

  13. NFL vs BRADY set the legal precedent, Roger Godell doesn’t need facts or legal burden to discipline his players because the NFLPA allowed him to be the judge, jury and executioner. Smith needs to stop crying and resign, he has done more damage to the union than anyone in NFLPA history.

  14. tylawspick6 says:
    September 6, 2017 at 8:18 am

    Has nothing to do with the labor deal. Goodell hijacked what Article 46 means and has no integrity.

    Please learn facts.

    ———————–

    You are referring to Article 46 of the COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AGREEMENT, which by definition is an issue with the labor deal. If the players agree with your assessment that Goodell has hijacked that part of the CBA, then they can simply negotiate for a revised discipline process and make sure the it’s worded in such a way that it won’t be manipulated.

  15. Exactly like the bountygate and deflategate cases. The league has the right to make whatever disciplinary decision they want, and is not obligated to do any investigating, talk to any particular witnesses, fairly weigh any evidence or anything else.

    It’s crazy, and I’m sure the player’s union never figured the current commissioner would wield his authority in such a capricious and irresponsible way, but he has and they gave him the right to do so.

  16. luckyforus says:
    September 6, 2017 at 9:49 am
    Quit with the Josh Brown comparisons. Brown is out of the league so he was ultimately suspended forever.

    ***************************************************
    Brown is absolutely applicable here. Same accusation, same mandatory first offense punishment…..yet different suspensions…..not sure how you can ignore the two. Just because he is out of the league, doent mean his suspension isnt comparable.

  17. Lets get a confirmed Giants fan to take the lead in a case involving a star player for the Cowboys.
    If the NFL is so concerned with PR, why do they opt for a decision like this. They didn’t think this would look bad?

  18. This whole period is going to go down as a black-eye for the NFL. The Commissioner has gone to such extremes to protect “the shield” that he has turned the suspension process into a lengthy court battle. What the two sides need to do is realize that this isn’t good for either side right now, and engage in discussions for how to properly handle suspensions in the future. I think that they should agree on suspension lengths based on the type of offense (i.e. drug use, DUI, battery, etc.), and then establish a 7 person panel to review incidents with 3 individuals from the league office, 3 individuals from the player’s union, and a truly independent 3rd party to serve as the tie-breaker.

  19. osage44 says:
    September 6, 2017 at 8:53 am
    It was an open and shut case. No one has articulated any earthly reason why the League would conspire against Elliot or the Cowboys.

    ———-

    Because the case came before Goodell who spun his “punishment wheel” and it came up “6-game Suspension”

    Sorry Zeke….you lose

  20. I feel like sometimes we confuse the NFL, a corporation, with a government entity. My boss, for example, doesn’t need to follow the legal threshold for guilt to suspend an employee who’s charged with something like domestic assault. Roger Goodell handles all of this pretty terribly, but we can’t keep treating this like it’s a court of law. If it’s allowable under the CBA, it’s allowed.

  21. I still find it fascinating that a few people say “he’s guilty” of domestic violence with all the conviction of it being an open and shut case.

    Honestly, there are only two people that know the truth – all anyone else has to work with is the evidence at hand.

    And when you add up all that evidence, it seems far more likely that Elliot did not commit domestic violence. It seems far more likely the bruises were the result of a bar fight not involving Elliot at all. It is crystal clear – it’s in her own words, for cripes sake – that she was attempting to make up a story of domestic violence to pressure Elliot for money. It’s really just as simple as that – there is no compelling evidence that Elliot committed domestic violence, and there is a lot of evidence that the whole thing was fabricated.

    The NFL screwed this up for one reason alone: Image. Based on the past, they’d rather risk punishing a player unjustifiably than risk being seen as “soft” on domestic violence. And the CBA allows them to do exactly that.

    They’ve twisted a meaningful old adage into this: “Better one innocent man is convicted rather than ten guilty men go free.”

    Full disclosure: I can’t stand the Cowboys.

  22. Once Zeke lawyered up, there is no reason for the league to do anything BUT affirm. If he hadn’t, I’m sure they would have reduced. But if the gauntlet is thrown down, then the game is afoot.

    If everything stands, Zeke will get the 6 games.

    Or, he will get none.

    But he just made it such that the league had no incentive to hear his arguments.

  23. Appeals need to be handled by a truly neutral party. This was a total farce.
    ————————-
    So what does that make Brady’s appeal when Goodell himself ruled on his own decision? And don’t give me that crap about his stooge Vincent making the original decision – it was Goodell all the way on orders from loser owners to save his job.

  24. How come there was not this kind of support for Tom Brady???? He was also railroaded – just like this case.

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