NFL, NFLPA continue their P.R. battle in the Ezekiel Elliott case

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Friday’s media briefing by the NFL focused primarily on the legal strategy that the league has deployed in Ezekiel Elliott‘s case. But the NFL also spent a little time blowing the P.R. horn regarding the NFL Players Association’s defense of Elliott.

NFL spokesman Joe Lockhart said the NFLPA is “playing the game of ‘blame and shame'” regarding Elliott’s accuser, Tiffany Thompson. Lockhart dubbed the effort “offensive,” pointing to evidence and argument from the internal appeal hearing made to look Thompson look bad. Lockhart, who once worked for a President whose lawyers were accused of dealing with allegations of sexual misconduct by advancing the “nuts and sluts” defense, also chastised Elliott and the union for putting the 160-page investigation report in the Elliott case “up on the Internet, for everyone to see.”

In fairness to Elliott and his legal team, the investigative report — which was created by the league — is relevant to the question of whether the league’s disciplinary procedures were fair and proper, as applied to Elliott.

Earlier this month, Lockhart criticized NFLPA lawyer Jeffrey Kessler for pointing out that Commissioner Roger Goodell had not considered the possibility of mitigating circumstances that may have reduced Elliott’s baseline suspension of six games based on things Thompson had said and done.

In response to Lockhart’s comments, the NFLPA issued on Friday afternoon an open letter to the media.

“This week, the NFL continued their endless spin cycle by using their lawyers and political operatives in a series of background and on-the-record media calls that only included some of you,” the NFLPA wrote. “This is a desperate attempt to rescue whatever credibility they have left with you and the fans. For all of the distractions that the League office has dictated to you this week, here is a reminder about who we are and what we do in the words of the Federal Judge Amos Mazzant in the Elliott decision: ‘Luckily, the NFLPA found the fairness needle in the unfairness haystack. . . .’ The Judge goes on: ‘Consistent with [the NFL’s] previous actions to suppress [their lead Investigator’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.’

“For those of you sticking to the facts, we thank you for your continued accurate coverage of our players and wish everyone good luck in Week 2 of the NFL season.”

The allegations and counter allegations don’t really matter at this point; the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit will be deciding sooner or later whether to allow the suspension of Elliott to proceed. But it’s no surprise, given that the NFL’s decision to prosecute privately employees who were never prosecuted publicly arises strictly and completely from P.R. concerns, that these legal maneuverings will continue to have a very real P.R. dynamic.

14 responses to “NFL, NFLPA continue their P.R. battle in the Ezekiel Elliott case

  1. “For those of you sticking to the facts…”

    Consistent with [the NFL’s] previous actions to suppress [their lead Investigator’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.’

  2. It is completely out of order to say someone is chastising an accuser BECAUSE the defendant is sharing FACTS AND DETAILS that make the accuser look a certain way. If the accuser had not done those things and they were not facts then I would agree. However the MOST important thing in this case IS THE TRUTH!!!! No one is above the truth and that even includes women who accuse men of bad things. Let the facts speak and it is better for the present and future of both men and women.

  3. The accuser made herself look bad. Blaming injuries from a bar fight on Elliott. Texting her friends asking them to lie for her that Elliott caused the injuries. What more do you need to see to know that she was lying to get money from Elliott?

  4. Million dollar question……with this being extended out a year or so….can Elliott stay out of trouble and keep from having multiple suspensions pending? Keep up the good fight NFLPA and Jerry!

  5. You can kick and scream all you want (and believe me, I’ve done my fair share since this whole “investigation” started), but at the end of the day, Goodell will get what he wants – league be damned.

    Anybody who disagrees with this, need only remind themselves what happened to Brady. Goodell cares about one thing, and one thing only: Having absolute and undeniable control over the players, period.

    On some level, he probably knows Elliott is innocent or, at the very least, a partial victim himself – but he does not care. He knew the NFLPA would be all over this, so he’s simply using it as another opportunity to remind everyone that US Courts have ZERO power in any of this, and players will deal with whatever suspension he imposes, without question.

    …I thought it was a laugh riot when Brady got suspended – and I’m man enough to admit, it’s no longer funny when it’s YOUR team that is affected by this ego-maniac. I’ve already accepted the fact that Elliott will eventually sit – you all might as well accept it, too. No way on ANY planet, Goodell won’t eventually have his way – regardless of whether he actually believes Elliott is guilty or not, because in his world Justice is irrelevant. The only thing that matters to him is “control”, and the league will NEVER give that up without a vicious fight.

  6. Get ready for no football when the CBA expires. NFL and NFLPA, will dig in on control of disciplinary issues.

  7. I could be wrong but the suspension of Brady and Elliot are clearly a set up by the NFL for future negotiating purposes. We all know that during collective bargaining (I understand the next agreement is years away) it’s a give and take between players and owners. So to me it makes sense that owners try and create an issue as large as the sharing of revenue. Therefore causing players to habe to give back some of that revenue sharing percentage to have some say over how players are disciplined. Take the two most popular players in the NFL and show the rest of the players this can happen to any of them. On a side note is it possible for Elliot to counter sue the NFL for defamation of character or is the NFL protected by the cba?

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