As the NFL embarks on its annual five-to-six-week period of minimal activity, the time for the NFL to resolve the long-lingering Ezekiel Elliott investigation has arrived.
If he’s going to be disciplined, Elliott needs to have time to appeal and resolve it before Week One. If he’s not going to be disciplined (and if the end result is that Elliott is blameless), the sooner the door is finally closed on this one, the better.
Elliott technically remains under scrutiny for allegations of domestic violence that emerged nearly a year ago. Although all parties involved have expressed optimism regarding the outcome from Elliott’s perspective, the investigation just won’t go away.
It needs to, one way or the other. Public confidence in the NFL applies not just to the games but to everything the league endeavors to do. Investigations the inexplicably hang around for weeks, months, and nearly a year do nothing to persuade the general public that the NFL is handling its in-house criminal justice system in a fair and appropriate way.
The reason(s) for the delay aren’t clear. Perhaps (speculation alert) some involved in the process believe the alleged victim and others believe Elliott. Perhaps (speculation alert) the league is trying figure out how to properly balance a desire to eradicate domestic violence from the sport with the need to placate one of the most powerful owners in all of sport.
Regardless, it’s not just going to fade away unnoticed. The longer is lasts, the less confidence the public will have in the notion that the league’s internal procedures don’t dole out justice from behind a blindfold but with plenty of competing P.R. and business considerations determining how and when these inquiries end — and that those P.R. and business concerns may result in enough analysis to trigger paralysis.