The reasons for Ezekiel Elliott’s victory

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In an effort to block the Ezekiel Elliott suspension, Elliott and the NFLPA threw plenty of arguments at the judicial dart board. Ultimately, multiple needles stuck at or near the bull’s-eye.

Based on the 22-page ruling from Judge Amos L. Mazzant III, here are the facts that drove the decision that Elliott did not receive a fundamentally fair hearing throughout the league’s internal disciplinary and appeal process.

First, Judge Mazzant concluded that the concerns regarding the credibility of Tiffany Thompson demanded an opportunity by Elliott’s lawyers to cross-examine Thompson at the appeal hearing. Arbitrator Harold Henderson’s refusal to order the league to make Thompson available robbed the process of fundamental fairness to Elliott, in Judge Mazzant’s opinion.

Second, Judge Mazzant concluded that the confusion regarding the handling (and alleged concealment by the NFL) of the opinions and conclusions of NFL Director of Investigations Kia Roberts required Commissioner Roger Goodell to testify at the appeal hearing. Henderson’s refusal to compel Goodell’s attendance and testimony kept the process from being fundamentally fair to Elliott.

Third, Judge Mazzant believes Henderson should have ordered the NFL to produce the notes taken during the various interviews of Tiffany Thompson.

Finally, Judge Mazzant explains that it was the one thing Henderson required the league to do — produce Kia Roberts to testify — that set the stage for Elliott’s ability to prove his case. Here’s the key text from the opinion: “Consistent with its previous actions to suppress Roberts’s dissenting opinions, the NFL kept this sequence of events from the NFLPA and Elliott until the arbitration hearing. In fact, had the NFL succeeded in its overall goal, this sequence of events would still be concealed from Elliott and the NFLPA. The NFLPA filed a motion to compel the testimony of Roberts, and the NFL argued in response that her testimony was unnecessary, consistent with Friel’s testimony, and cumulative. . . . Luckily, the NFLPA found the fairness needle in the unfairness haystack and Henderson ordered Roberts to testify. The arbitration record shows that Roberts’s testimony was everything but unnecessary, consistent, and cumulative.”

These factors all led to a very strong conclusion from Judge Mazzant regarding Elliott’s likelihood of winning the case when a final ruling is issued: “The circumstances of this case are unmatched by any case this Court has seen. . . . Fundamental unfairness infected this case from the beginning, eventually killing any possibility that justice would be served.”

It is, without question, a home run for Elliott and the NFLPA. A federal judge has concluded, as Elliott alleged and many agreed, that the process lacks basic fairness to the player. While many like to claim that the NFLPA agreed to these procedures, the union did not agree to the implementation of these procedures in an unfair way. That’s why the availability of the court system becomes critical to the ultimate effort to secure for the players a degree of fairness that the league is clearly not committed to providing.

54 responses to “The reasons for Ezekiel Elliott’s victory

  1. This case should deal a death-blow to the NFL “system” that allows players to be judged and punished exclusively by the commissioner and his minions.

    Companies must have employee handbooks that detail acceptable and unacceptable employee behavior and outline the punishment for violating the company’s policies.

    How can a multi-billion dollar business like the NFL not have standards for employee behavior – standards that any small business would have?! It’s an outrage and the time has come for this business, run by 32 wealthy business owners who know better (they could never run their businesses like they run the NFL) start doing things by a book that everyone can read and follow.

    How these super-wealthy owners get away with things that your local business cannot is beyond the pale of reason!

  2. As a Pats fan, I would just like to point out that this ruling sounds very similar to the one issued by Judge Berman. Congratulations to the Cowboys on winning round one, but the war is far from over. Good luck!

  3. …… and the owners supposedly extended Goodell’s contract? You want the number one reason for ratings decline, there it is! #firegoodell. How many times this dude gonna try and make up for screwing up the Ray Rice moment?

  4. Everyone says that Goodell makes the league owners too much money to be fired but be honest, the NFL would still continue to print money no matter who is the commissioner.

  5. So evidently you can abuse people as long as you have enough lawyers to cloud the waters. Complain about Goodell all you want but if the CEO of Apple was doing the same things ol Zeke was, he’d be unrmployed

  6. A real judge looked at the case and decided very quickly that the nfl’s process was not only flawed but had a certain odor to it that needed attention. How Goodell and his cronies think this is a suitable way to operate is beyond any rational thinking person’s scope.

  7. It doesn’t really matter. Zeke will do it again. Guys that hit women can’t help themselves, and it usually gets worse as it goes. He may win this battle, everybody is going to look bad before his career is over.

  8. This is a consistent theme with the league – they had no interest in “fundamental fairness” with Brady and now Elliott, so hopefully this will stick. Another Pats fan rooting for this.

  9. “Fundamental unfairness infected this case from the beginning, eventually killing any possibility that justice would be served.”

    There it is, the official stamp of Roger Goodell and his National Integrity League

  10. elyasm says:

    As a Pats fan, I would just like to point out that this ruling sounds very similar to the one issued by Judge Berman. Congratulations to the Cowboys on winning round one, but the war is far from over. Good luck!
    ===================================================

    The difference between the two cases are text messages. Texts from The Deflator confirms Brady’s guilt, and texts from Zeke’s accuser confirms his innocence.

  11. Fundamental fairness is not a supportable concept in the current CBA as was concluded in the Deflategate saga. 2 New York judges ruled that the CBA allows Goodell to assign punishment to players regardless of guilt. I root for this case to disavow that ruling.

  12. elyasm says:
    September 8, 2017 at 7:12 pm

    As a Pats fan, I would just like to point out that this ruling sounds very similar to the one issued by Judge Berman.
    ——————

    The NFL is going to have a hard time explaining away this latest incompetence. Article 46 doesn’t cover lying and suppressing testimony.

  13. Sad, that what started as a investigation into domestic violence has now become just a case as to who holds the power, the commish or the NFLPA…The nfl bungled this from the beginning, instead of fairly looking at the evidence both for and against and the credibility both for and against and coming up with a fair, 1-3 game suspension, the NFL decided to hide evidence ignore testimony and impose and unfair 6 game susp. because they wanted to make up for past sins and look good in the court of public opinion, even if it meant trampling on the Basic Rights of Elliott and that is not only wrong but sad…That’s the new “win at any cost” world we live in now, I guess..

  14. This is embarrassing. The NFL’s disciplinary process is flawed on so many different levels, the whole thing needs to be scrapped. Minimally, the entire arbitration process should be conducted by an entirely independent governing body. That is what judicial gainers is all about. The NFL just doesn’t get it and it starts with Goodell.

  15. The key issue in those points is the concealment or hiding of crucial material. The NFL still has not answered as to why Kia Roberts was barred from giving her opinion in the meeting with Goodell and the 4 advisors. The fact that the NFL would not produce the notes is telling. All of those factors point to a coverup by the league. Maybe it’s not all that surprising considering the NFL covered up what they knew about concussions and then hired Lisa Friel, who when she was a prosecutor withheld evidence from the defense in a rape case that involved 2 New York City cops. It’s a coverup and it feels like they want to make an example out of a high profile player.

  16. This bogging down of our legal system with the crap… deflate gate, elliot slapping women, civil rights lawsuits, kneeling during the anthem… i know the last one isn’t a lawsuit, but all this crap that amounts to pissing contests between millionaires and billionaires during a time when the merits of playing football by young people are under siege is going to kill the NFL.
    i’d never have said that 10 years ago, but throw in 3 hour games, lousy stadium experiences, and “instant replay” and you’ve got a serious problem.

  17. It is amazing how law-ignorant these commenters are.

    This decision has nothing to do with the testimony in the case. The court isn’t going to rule on that; solely the procedure by which the league (commissioner) reached its decision to suspend. Nothing is going to change, regardless of what the conjecture is surrounding the girl’s testimony. I hope you people know that. The courts don’t involve themselves with collectively bargained matters unless someone’s constitutional rights are violated. And a private entity with vague collective bargaining verbiage does fall in that category.

    It’s just delaying the inevitable.

  18. Michael E says:
    September 8, 2017 at 7:37 pm
    elyasm says:

    As a Pats fan, I would just like to point out that this ruling sounds very similar to the one issued by Judge Berman. Congratulations to the Cowboys on winning round one, but the war is far from over. Good luck!
    ===================================================

    The difference between the two cases are text messages. Texts from The Deflator confirms Brady’s guilt, and texts from Zeke’s accuser confirms his innocence.

    ———————
    There were no text messages from anyone called the deflator. Because there was no one that was called the deflator. Thats how badly Goodell lied to you. In these courtrooms the NFL cant lie is why judges ruling on the evidence (or on Bradys case the total lack of evidrnce as confirmed by Goodell when he was asked the direct question under oath) so if this is what he is doing to Elliot this is exactly the sort of stuff that needs to be stopped. Nothing can be changed for Brady, but no need for it to happen to Elliot.

  19. not excusing the behavior but I never was on board with the commissioner being able to suspend a player for something that goes on in his personal life. that seemed more like a ploy to satisfy the media and to give a false illusion to the fans that the owners actually give a damn when in fact they could care less.

  20. To yhe dudes saying he is a woman abuser and he will do it again.

    Obviously have not followed the case. No charges filed for abuse, no real evidence.
    And have you not read where woman was out to get him. Texts proovie it.
    Even the lead NFL lead invetigator said the accuser had jo credibility.
    Hers testimony not allowed in decision.
    And come on….does anyone believe that somone like Lisa Friel as such a rabid Giants fan could be objective?

  21. mmack66 says:
    September 8, 2017 at 7:44 pm
    elyasm says:
    September 8, 2017 at 7:12 pm

    As a Pats fan, I would just like to point out that this ruling sounds very similar to the one issued by Judge Berman.
    ——————

    The NFL is going to have a hard time explaining away this latest incompetence. Article 46 doesn’t cover lying and suppressing testimony.

    58 1 Rate This

    ——

    well, after goodell paid off judges chin and parker, apparently cheating,
    lying and framing is absolutely ok due to article 46

    that is what their ruling was

    the censoring and “wordsmithing” in the wells report
    is suppressing testimony

    they hid all the pats employees testimony and brady’s for a reason

    goodell lies

  22. Who knows if Zeek is innocent, but this is a sorely needed victory for due process. Innocent until proven guilty is a good system.

  23. Why have a CBA if judges are going to over rule it? The players should give back the percentage that the owners gave up in exchange for the disciplinary procedures.

  24. Wonder if Roger will ever figure out that the NFL has no clue when it comes to legal issues. He would have soo many less headaches if he just followed the lead of the judicial system, rather than trying to invent his own system.

  25. Arbitrator Harold Henderson’s refusal to order the league to make Thompson available robbed the process of fundamental fairness to Elliott, in Judge Mazzant’s opinion.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~
    The league has no more authority to demand her appearance than they do to demand President Trump show up. They cannot compel someone that does not work for them to do anything at all.

    The league and its lawyers acted stupidly. In their attempt to downplay Roberts’ opinion they said it was consistent with other opinions and therefor not needed. That opened the door for this appeal to even be considered. Roberts opinion was contained in her report. That opinion was reviewed and disregarded by Goodell in favor of differing opinions. That is completely within his authority and discretion. Playing the PR game cost them not the process itself.

  26. Many observers of the Elliott case insist that the recent court ruling favorable to Elliott and the NFLPA is but a pyric victory. In view of Brady’s case, I understand the sentiment. However, this case has an element that was missing in the Brady case. If the NFL ruling is upheld, the ruling would prejudice Elliott in a civil suit and potentially undermine the authority of the U.S. judicial system to decide the guilt or innocence of an accused in the context of the law. The NFL’s ruling does not simply find Elliot guilty of violating a code or policy of professional conduct; it finds that Elliott, more likely than not, committed an act of domestic violence. If the NFL refuses to fold on the “unfair procedures” issue, and fights on, the court will be forced to say the following: Domestic violence is a crime and the NFL has no business making decisions about a criminal act.

  27. This process is way too complicated and drawn out. I understand that the league needs to have a personal conduct policy and enforce it because when players make bad choices the league – the brand – suffers. Ratings are down. But this process is also detrimental to the league as it results in even more bad publicity. The process should be more open and straightforward. This is a business. An entertainment business. Players and the league should know that creating bad publicity needs to be punished, as it turns away the crowd that feeds them. The way things are going, it doesn’t seem like anything is going to change until the next tv deal, which may be less money than the last one for the first time. That means less money for the league and salary cap. Once that happens maybe that will concentrate some minds.

  28. The courts in this country are a mess essentially legislating from the bench. The only question for the court to consider is: Does the NFL have the exclusive authority to suspend a player under the CBA? All the rehashing of evidence, procedure and discussion of fairness is of no merit as this is not an appeal of the ruling itself. If the NFL does have that right as negotiated in the CBA then they can do what they want. Just like in deflate-gate and other high profile cases the rule of law and the the NFL will ultimately prevail.

  29. This is a great start, hopefully they will win the appeal that will inevitably happen. BUT this can really only be fixed with a labor stoppage. This madness has to stop. The league isn’t “handling” discipline, they are short circuiting players chance for a fair process in order to achieve the pre determined outcome. It must stop.

  30. instead of talking about games and match-ups all the talk is about the court system and suspect players. Good job Rog! I enjoy the NFL but it’s fun watching it crumble.

  31. godeepwvu says:
    September 8, 2017 at 7:51 pm

    The Judge is going to look foolish when he beats the next woman….and the next.
    —————————-

    People like you are scary.

  32. Not everything is about money, but I’m pretty sure the NFL is intentionally bungling these punishments and being unfair for the sake of making the disciplinary process a bargaining chip at the next CBA negotiations. The worse they handle these cases the more valuable that chip becomes.

  33. evrybdyhas1 says:
    September 9, 2017 at 7:39 am

    The only question for the court to consider is: Does the NFL have the exclusive authority to suspend a player under the CBA?
    ————————-

    Sure they do, but there are still Federal labor laws they are required to follow. Goodell can’t ever seem to do that, so these cases end up in Federal court.

    When you throw in all of the lies they tell, then it really gets the attention of the Feds.

  34. The rules fall under the NFL’s Personal Conduct Policy, which means the league can implement this without input from the union or having to put it into the CBA. That alone is almost as shocking as the severity of the punishments.

  35. The difference between the two cases are text messages. Texts from The Deflator confirms Brady’s guilt, and texts from Zeke’s accuser confirms his innocence.
    *****************************************
    There were no texts between “The Deflater” and Brady. That was sort of the point. Until the Deflategate investigation started, Brady had no off field contact with the man.

  36. Henderson denying Elliott an opportunity to examine Ms. Roberts notes and interview the Commish constituted fundamental unfairness.

    If Ohio and FL did not find DV, how can the NFL? The NFL needs to fair and get out of punishing players when the courts do not find a criminal violation.

  37. Now it is open season on groping women you don’t know so long as you can buy them off and then invent consensual sex afterwards.

    This is a disgusting outcome – there is still no proof that the original white, gold-digging witch made anything up – and it is a fact that the Bearded Woman Beater has beaten up other women before the gold-digger.

    Hopefully when the dust settles this piece of scum will be banned from the NFL for life and let him take his abuse of women on the road where he can end up serving life in jail; make no mistake here, if this jerk gets away with this, he will rape his next victim – and I doubt she’ll live through it as well.

  38. @ laserw says:

    Un-bunch those undergarments, Orville. Elliott FINALLY was judged IMPARTIALLY, and you and the rest of the haters simply can’t handle it.

    Zeke’s accuser was a psycho who lied repeatedly (confirmed by text messages she sent, as well as witnesses in the same car), and Kia Roberts (the lead NFL investigator, a woman herself) who interviewed Thompson advocated for ZERO games suspended after conducting Thompson’s interview. Roberts recommendation NEVER made it to the final report nor the official suspension – why? All of that speaks volumes. Henderson nor Goodell interviewed Thompson, nor did Friel, yet they ignored the individual’s recommendation who actually interviewed her? It reeks of conspiracy.

    This was a witch hunt. If you want to jump on DV, jump on Josh Brown, who had 20+ PROVEN incidences of DV, several 911 calls placed by his wife. He was also suspended 6 games, but then it was reduced to 1 game by Henderson. And Mara never reported the DV after he found out about it a year before the 1 game suspension was levied. If you want to cry and moan, pick and choose your battles. Josh Brown’s case was PROVEN, and he got a total of one game last year (collectively, he now has 7 games if you add the very recent 6 game suspension they just added to last year’s one game suspension). Nauseating. Just nauseating.

    Go cry us all a river, laserw.

  39. I’m not for or against this drama so heres’ my thought. Everyone seems to be looking at the legal side of all this, The NFL is always talking about the integrity of the league so are they saying that these player that have bad conduct off the field are tarnishing the image that the “NFL business” is trying to clean up? Just like any other business would! If so then serve your suspension and move on, I’m not sure where people think that there bad behavior is OK without consequences. I just want to watch football! all this drama is taking all the fun this sport creates away from the sport. All the drama is on the owners and player, clean it up and QUIT ACTING LIKE CHILDREN!!!!!! The fans are sick of it.

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