Elliott ruling points to “varying” nature of Lisa Friel’s testimony

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The challenge to Ezekiel Elliott‘s suspension has from time to time centered on the role of NFL Special Counsel for Investigations Lisa Friel. Elliott and the NFL Players Association believe that Friel downplayed at best and concealed at worst the concerns of NFL Director of Investigations Kia Roberts regarding Elliott’s accuser’s credibility because Friel wanted to recommend an Elliott suspension — and because she knew that Roberts (who interviewed Elliott’s accuser six times to Friel’s none) didn’t agree with that outcome.

Judge Amos L. Mazzant III took specific aim at Friel’s credibility in the 22-page ruling blocking the Elliott suspension pending resolution of the lawsuit. Like many judges do, Judge Mazzant used a footnote for making his point.

Here’s footnote 9 to the written decision from Judge Mazzant: “Friel presented varying testimony throughout her arbitration [appearance] regarding Roberts’s opinions. She initially claimed that she could not discuss what conversations took place during the meeting because ‘[w]e had counsel in the room at the time, so [the conversations] would be protected by privilege.’ . . . Friel stated, ‘I don’t know if [Roberts]’ had the opportunity to discuss her views on the sufficiency of the evidence. Friel further said that ‘[Roberts] wasn’t in the meeting [Friel] had with [the Commissioner].’ . . . She additionally states ‘[t]hat’s not to say [Roberts’s] views were not communicated to him in some other fashion. I don’t know the answer to that.’ She confidently states that she does not ‘know if they were or weren’t [communicated to him in some fashion]’ but she asserts ‘that’s certainly possible.’ . . . However, in response to the very next question she communicated Roberts’s views to Goodell. . . . Yet, she could not ‘tell [the attorney] precisely’ how Roberts’s views were expressed, but just that ‘it was presented to him.’ Then, Friel claims that ‘Cathy Lanier may have’ expressed Roberts’s views to the Commissioner, but she does not ‘recall anything specific.'”

The most reasonable explanation for Friel’s zeal to suspend Elliott comes from the obvious desire to avoid another Ray Rice scenario, in which a player who was indeed guilty of domestic violence wasn’t sufficiently disciplined. Friel was hired in the aftermath of the Rice fiasco, and it’s now clear that the league has crafted a process aimed at erring on the side of suspending the innocent instead of failing to properly punish the guilty.

Then there’s that nagging perception that Friel’s status as a life-long Giants fan has at some level influenced her decision-making when the league failed to properly punish former Giants kicker Josh Brown last year and more recently when the league threw the book at Elliott.

Here’s what we wrote on the topic in 2016: “If Mike Kensil’s relationship with the Jets was fair game for scrutiny in the #DeflateGate saga regarding whether the league wanted to harm the Patriots, it’s fair to point out league-office allegiances that could help a team. Moreover, during the officiating lockout of 2012, a replacement official who made it clear that he is a Saints fan was pulled from a Saints game. If fan allegiance is enough to result in an official being removed from a given game, it’s fair to at least ask the question of whether Friel’s affinity for the Giants influenced her decision to opt for lenience with Brown — and her willingness to not press harder to hear from Brown’s ex-wife or from law enforcement.”

That same reasoning makes it fair to wonder whether Friel’s affinity for the Giants influenced her decision to opt for a harsh outcome for Elliott under circumstances that a federal judge has found to reveal fundamental unfairness to the player. Regardless of the reason (helping the Giants, hurting the Cowboys, protecting the league office against another Rice fiasco, telling the boss what she thinks the boss wants to hear, and/or good, old-fashioned incompetence) the Elliott ruling shines a fresh light on Friel and the work she has done on behalf of the league.

28 responses to “Elliott ruling points to “varying” nature of Lisa Friel’s testimony

  1. My guess is the league didn’t want another light punishment and since 6 games is the new standard for domestic abuse they slapped him with it. Now what is unfair is that if a player doesn’t commit a domestic violence act and is punished unjustly the NFL will probably face less backlash from the masses then if they punish too light

  2. Sack the whole lot–everyone that touched that investigation and still recommended a suspension should be placed in a burlap sack and beaten with wooden mallets..or minimally thrown out into the street. The league will continue to exist regardless of their presence, as it has already endured, despite their meddling.

  3. So Goodell wasn’t aware of Kia Roberts recommendation? That’s what I’m gathering from her responses if the league says he knew about it yet Roberts never got the chance to tell him (as Friel made sure that didn’t happen) and Friel can’t say how or if he was made aware at all other than saying somebody else “may have” made him aware. Obviously she didn’t wanna show the bias in this investigation by just saying “I don’t know.” It just gets better and better if you’re a Cowboy or anti Goodell to see all this coming out. Take that haters

  4. According to her LinkedIn account, since April 2015 she has been Senior Vice President/Special Counsel for Investigations for the National Football League, and had been described by her former boss, former New York prosecutor Linda Fairstein, as a “rabid Giants fan.” [5]

  5. According to her LinkedIn account, since April 2015 she has been Senior Vice President/Special Counsel for Investigations for the National Football League, and had been described by her former boss, former New York prosecutor Linda Fairstein, as a “rabid Giants fan.” [5]

  6. Even the light shines on a dogs ass some days. SSDD for NFL. They try to make examples out of players when they are way to late in the game and yet they let players during the games disrespect our nations flag. I am going to call out the red white and blue fans of the NFL. philly, newyork, patriots, cowboys, I have no doubt these are, and all of the red white and blue NFL fans that are true patriots. The next time you are at a game and there is a kneeler, sitter, or whatever they do to disrespect our nation—-after the anthem is over I think the crowd starts to sing God Bless America. Let them sit a little longer. We as fans have just as much of a right to sing our patriotism as they do to sit.

  7. That same reasoning makes it fair to wonder whether Friel’s affinity for the Giants influenced her decision to opt for a harsh outcome for Elliott under circumstances that a federal judge has found to reveal fundamental unfairness to the player. Regardless of the reason (helping the Giants, hurting the Cowboys, protecting the league office against another Rice fiasco, telling the boss what she thinks the boss wants to hear, and/or good, old-fashioned incompetence) the Elliott ruling shines a fresh light on Friel and the work she has done on behalf of the league.
    ~~~~~~~~~~
    As long as we are cherry-picking potential fandom and emotional alliances here, would that logic not also dictate that it is also fair to wonder if a federal judge in Texas may want to help his favorite team by allowing a star player on that team to play?

  8. At what point do the NFL team owners realize that GOONdell and his cronies have a ton to do with dropping interest in the NFL. Fantasy football has kept interest up of late. I’m a 45 year serious fan but am losing interest fast. Goodell is ruining the game we all loved. Where have you gone John Facenda?!

  9. I don’t care whose byline is on all these eliot stories they’re all BS from florio just trying to increase his clicks– It’s all Texas politics and Godell will win eventually much to the dismay of Jerrah.
    someone should slap these idiots up side their head and read the Brady outcome which had no evidence of any wrong doing –king Roger will prevail if he wants!

  10. Wow. Nicely done, Florio. I’m not just saying this because I love the Cowboys and hate the Giants. Conflict of interest, recusal, fairness: these ideas mean nothing to the league.

  11. Judges judge. Investigators investigate. No judge asks an investigator what kind of punishment the accused deserves. Roberts’ opinion on Elliott’s suspension should not matter even a little bit. Investigators in real life discover facts, hear from witnesses, present evidence, or present theories. Their job is not judgment of the accused. Ever.

  12. The prosecutor is wrapping up a line of questioning of the arresting police officer on the witness stand in a domestic battery case.

    “No further questions, Your Honor,” the prosecutor says.

    The judge replies, “Not so fast, counselor, I have a question of my own for Sgt. Roberts… ma’am, what do you think we do to the defendant?

    It doesn’t happen. She’s just an investigator. Not a judge.

  13. good old fashioned incompetence…..always amazed at how some people can attain powerful positions that pay huge salary’s yet they are really just idiots…

  14. The manner in which the NFL has judged Elliott and particularly Ms. Friel’s conduct may have a significant collateral impact on the eradication of domestic violence as it will likely focus defense attorneys on investigating and aggressively cross examining victims. The likelihood of such treatment will deter reporting such incidents as it often did before the institution of Rape Shield laws. Congratulations NFL!

    The amateurish process also highlights the move of the NFL away from the collectively bargained preponderance of all of the evidence to selecting a scintilla of evidence to justify its verdict and punishment. The NFL has ignored the Ideal Gas Laws (in Deflategate) and based its verdict Elliott case on posed photographs of bruises taken by a would be racist extortionist. The strong wording of the Judge Mazzant should give the NFL pause in its crusade for positive PR.

    The impact may have a far more reaching legal effect as the NFL is now entwined in the quagmire of legal politics. The Second Circuit has already shown a propensity to rule based on form over substance ignoring justice and fundamental fairness. The Fifth Circuit seems to embrace those concepts including confronting one’s accuser, fundamental due process, considering all the evidence and common sense. Unless the NFL can get the case in the Fifth Circuit stayed it has ensnared itself in a “no win” situation which will continue to dominate its relationship with the players.

    The case may also have pulled the curtain back on owner influence on the process but that is still to be clarified.

  15. Since the league policy is to investigate players, coaches, personal, on air personalities
    for conduct detrimental to the NFL, I say that Lisa Friel and perhaps Roger should be investigated.
    I mean what is more detrimental than the league conspiring against it’s own players
    to “TRY” to look good the in the public eye for once.

    The hypocrisy of it all has no bounds.

  16. If this goes south, the NFL will make Lisa Friel the fall “guy” but an admitted Giants Fan giving Josh Brown a 1 game suspension for what has been repeated instances of domestic disputes ON record while handing down a 6 game suspension to Elliot for an allegation the courts did not attempt to prosecute despite Roberts determination the accusor was not being truthful reaks of unfairness at the very least maybe even to Adminstrative Misconduct

  17. “because ‘[w]e had counsel in the room at the time, so [the conversations] would be protected by privilege.’ . . . Friel stated”…that doesn’t make sense because Roberts reports to Friel, their both practically on the same side. It sounds like a made up excuse from Friel just to keep Roberts from saying anything. There is dirt on Lisa Friel when she was a former prosecuting attorney and was accused of withholding evidence in a rape case involving cops, after that case she resigned. So, Lisa Friel is not someone to be trusted.

  18. “Investigators in real life discover facts, hear from witnesses, present evidence, or present theories. ”

    Those results are usually presented to the person doing the judging, not concealed from them by rivals of the accused

  19. It doesn’t matter Cowboy fans, If you care to remember, you were not cheering that Tom Brady’s suspension was upheld because of evidence, it was upheld because of the CBA. The Players Association has given the NFL brass the authority to punish players without consenquence. Zeke will be taking a seat for 6 six games sooner or later, timing says it may be in the playoffs.
    BTW tell him to stop being a bad dude

  20. It would be nice to come to this site and see something other than Ezekiel Elliot. I am sure there is stuff going on with the other 31 teams. Not sure why 15 articles are needed on the same topic daily.

  21. PrincePaul says:
    September 9, 2017 at 10:45 am
    It would be nice to come to this site and see something other than Ezekiel Elliot. I am sure there is stuff going on with the other 31 teams. Not sure why 15 articles are needed on the same topic daily.
    ———————–

    At least the Elliott stories are timely and relevant. As opposed to the constant non-update updates on a certain unemployed QB.

  22. suncawy says:
    September 9, 2017 at 8:53 am

    There is dirt on Lisa Friel when she was a former prosecuting attorney and was accused of withholding evidence in a rape case involving cops, after that case she resigned. So, Lisa Friel is not someone to be trusted.
    ————————-

    No wonder the NFL snapped her up.

  23. “The most reasonable explanation for Friel’s zeal to suspend Elliott comes from the obvious desire to suspend a star player of an NFC East team that stands between her beloved New York Giants and a division title. ”

    Fixed it for you.

  24. This just shows that you don’t need intelligence to make money. NFL is really stupid for putting itself in this position of judge and jury over player behavior to the extent that they have.

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