Ezekiel Elliott case continues to be a bizarre balancing act for the NFL

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In his comments during the March league meetings in Arizona, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones made the case to his colleagues for getting out of the business of conducting internal investigations that supplement the work of the criminal justice system. And while Jones clearly has a vested interest in the current machinations of that specific mechanism, he made a valid point.

With Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott, who according to Clarence E. Hill, Jr. of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram previously was told he’d be cleared, now bracing for a suspension under the Personal Conduct Policy for alleged misconduct that resulted in neither an arrest nor charges, the league finds itself clumsily trying to balance conflicting business considerations while attempting to engage in what should be (but never can be) an objective, dispassionate assessment of the facts. On one hand, the league needs to placate Jones, who has more power than ever and who, we’re told, made it clear to the powers-that-be a year ago that he won’t be as gracious and compliant as Patriots owner Robert Kraft if a star player gets banned for something the boss thinks is bogus. On the other hand, the league needs to be cognizant of the potential P.R. consequences that would flow from a decision to give Elliott a pass — especially if his alleged victim files a lawsuit and eventually tells a compelling tale of domestic violence that the court of public opinion finds persuasive.

Surely, that’s one of the reasons why this case has taken so long to resolve. Whether the result of delicate negotiation or persistent consternation, the league office has been tiptoeing through a potential minefield, trying to find a path that will appease everyone involved and assuage the possibility of a Ray Rice/Josh Brown-style media firestorm.

Whatever the league does, it needs to do it now. The internal appeals process needs to be resolved before Week One, so that the potential suspension doesn’t hover one week at a time over the 2017 season. A cynic would say that influential Giants co-owner John Mara is pushing for immediate resolution, so that his team won’t have to face Elliott in Week One. Right or wrong, the league’s bungling of other investigations invites skepticism and cynicism when it comes to this one.

So what happens with Elliott? It’s possible that Friday’s report from Adam Schefter of ESPN was the product not of an exasperated Elliott camp accepting the inevitable but a deliberate leak from the league office aimed at gauging public opinion (along with the possible wrath of Jerry) before making a final decision. Whatever the motivation, a decision must come ASAFP if the league hopes for its internal investigation process to preserve any credibility whatsoever.

31 responses to “Ezekiel Elliott case continues to be a bizarre balancing act for the NFL

  1. For what it’s worth…I would never be accused of domestic violence or rape.
    Because I treat women with respect.
    I treat people with respect (Some ball busting with friends aside…)

    No matter how drunk or twisted I’ve ever been, that just isn’t in my nature.

    So suspend Zeke or clear him, this will pop up again.

  2. Look, this isn’t complicated.

    Ezekiel Elliott was neither arrested nor charged with any crime. Every witness denies the accuser’s story. There have even been text messages that have come to light from the accuser deliberately asking someone to lie to the police for her.

    I have no clue how he treated this girl, or how she treated him for that matter. All I know is that he wasn’t charged with a crime and based on the facts as we all know them he wouldn’t be convicted of anything in any court of law.

    If the NFL wants to slap a bogus suspension on him so they can shrug their shoulders later (in the unlikely event some sort of Ray Rice-level evidence emerges) and say “hey, we tried to punish him,” then just come out with it now so an appeal can be filed and we can strike this nonsense off the record and get #21 on the field in Week One. That would be the only just or reasonable conclusion to this fraud of a witch hunt.

  3. I have no skin in the game. As a Patriots fan, I don’t trust Goodell, but I still believe that John Mara is motivated by self interest and is as dirty as anyone. Jerry Jones should not roll over for Mara/Goodell like Robert Kraft did. At the end of the day, it’s bad for the league when owners blindly support others with vendettas.

  4. I’d be in favor of the NFL saying “screw it” when it comes to off the field behavioral issues. Let the courts handle criminal/civil matters, let teams handle PR matters.

    Goodell has shown nothing but incompetence and inconsistency when it comes to player discipline.

  5. Wow Florio admitting that mara is trying to job the cowboys I do believe there is a snowstorm in hell right now

  6. People keep saying this taking a long time. Do you all forget that he publicly molested a girl 4 months ago? In the best case scenario the league decided it wasnt gonna punish him from the domestic violence stuff when the groping incident occurred. That obviously extended the time Goodell had to release his decision. It makes no sense to let Ezekiel slide on the first case with a warning to be on his best behavior while in the process of investigating him on something else.

    The right thing to do is wait until theyre finished all investigations. Its not the NFL or Goodell’s fault that Ezekiel keeps displaying abhorrent behaviour towards women.

    If he would stopped giving the NFL reasons to keep investigating the investigation would have been over.

  7. If the league hopes for its internal investigation process to preserve any credibility whatsoever. A court has already decided that it doesn’t need any credibility, most NFL fans agreed with that decision. Dallas Cowboy fans the N.O. Saints fans and N.E. Patriots fans said hello.

  8. “….but a deliberate leak from the league office aimed at gauging public opinion…”

    If that’s what the goal is; kick him out of the NFL or do nothing.

  9. So, the facts of the case are 1) the prosecutor filed no charges against Elliott because of conflicting accounts 2) witnesses saw nothing…there is no video taped evidence, no phone calls 3) the accuser has not even filed a lawsuit, which we are going on to nearly 2 years since the incident. Where is th evidence something occurred? In a police report ? Yes, we know how reliable those police officers are…especially those who pull out their guns on innocent people. So, for those advocating a suspension, where is the evidence? And, you all should stop passing moral judgement because I’m sure you voted for the orange orangutan that currently resides in the White House, who is not so innocent when it comes to treating women with respect…hypocrites.

  10. Just fire Goodell. The one sided buddy system needs to go. If Goodell doesn’t suspend Zeke, poor Roger will be kicked off the bowling team by Mara. If GODell’s NFL keeps trying to play above the law, one day it’s gonna backfire beyond repair. If the Law let’s it go, stop listening to your poker buddies trying to cripple their rivals and YOU LET IT GO TOO! No harm, no foul, no laws broken, MOVE ON!

  11. Either Elliot is guilty and deserves a hefty penalty for what would be a very serious matter. Or he is innocent and should get nothing. One or the other. There is no way this in between stuff isnt going to come off looking ridiculous one way or another.

    IMHO, if the NFL did not have evidence they should have done nothing. To explain that they could simply tell the truth (Sorry, I get weird ideas sometimes). They need not comment at all on guilt or innocence just say the lack of penalty is due to the lack of evidence to base it on. That way if evidence surfaces later (say a video appears or something) they can explain going back and doing something without looking stupid because again the simple truth would work for them. “Before we had no evidence. Now we do” would be hard to argue with. In fact the way that makes so much sense to me is in my own eyes a sign of how the NFL never even considers ‘what if we just tell the truth?’ because otherwise this easy out would have occurred to them.

  12. Florio is correct about one thing!! I believe Mara lays awake at night, trying to think of ways to put it to the Cowboys! He’s succeeded once & I am sure will try to again. It would behoove the NFL to act based on the court system on this one…imo. The HOF contributor, Jerry Jones, will NOT let this one go, if they suspend him, under these circumstances, with witness testimony and texts on his phone, showing she was trying to set up Zeke!!!

  13. The NFL needs to stay out of the personal lives of players. They’ve shown they lack credibility and judgement as well as being deceitful. Even when they’re wrong they can’t admit it.
    They have no business policing players outside of the “workplace” i.e. practices, games and official NFL events.
    Let the judicial system take care of everything else.
    It would be one thing if Goodell and his cronies could be trusted but they can’t be.

  14. Just the length and scope of this ridiculous investigation shows how fraudulent and contrived it is. Zeke should’ve been cleared months ago, but it appears that the league office is determined to try and find something that is not there.

  15. Elliott never hit that girl, and the girl whose shirt he pulled down at the parade ASKED HIM TO DO IT! Women aren’t disney princesses… they’re happy to do stuff like that for rich, famous men.

  16. The law states innocent until proven guilty! Elliott has been cleared by law enforcement, so how he now being found guilty under the NFL Personal Conduct Policy for alleged misconduct. Elliott was neither arrested or charged!

    NFL Personal Conduct Policy states;
    An individual is subject to discipline under the policy if the person is determined to be guilty of a criminal charge or if the NFL investigation demonstrates the person engaged in conduct prohibited by the policy. So if no charges have been brought against a player the NFL is circumventing their own Personal Conduct Policy.

    The players are being illegally terminate even before they go to trial for committing a crime.

  17. The NFL needs to suspend players accused or charged with anything until all legal avenues are exhausted. By that I mean even if there are no criminal charges, players should be suspended and remain suspended until all civil actions are completed. This would ensure that No “Ray Rice” situation ever occurs again.

  18. mackcarrington says:
    Jul 15, 2017 3:58 PM

    The NFL needs to suspend players accused or charged with anything until all legal avenues are exhausted.

    So… The day before the last Super Bowl, by your philosophy, any woman could cry “Tom Brady slapped me 2 years ago”, and BAM – Brady would have been suspended until the 2 year completion of a Goodell investigation??? Seriously?

  19. mackcarrington – Hell hath no fury like an ex scorned. If the ex only had to cry wolf, by your rules half the league would be suspended. Your proposal of Guilty until proven innocent is a terrible idea.

  20. mackcarrington – What if that were your job and lively hood on the line because someone accused you of a crime. Why have laws that protect and guarantees our rights by provisions of the Bill of Rights that contain basic guarantees of a fair trial— right to counsel, right to speedy and public trial, right to be free from the use of unlawfully seized evidence and unlawfully obtained confessions?

  21. @sgrvn329:
    I’m not saying he should be arrested and incarcerated. I’m not saying anything that threatens his constitutional rights. You know that. This isn’t a constitutional issue at all. His employer has the right to administer any kind of discipline they deem fit.

  22. @taxmidnite:
    You know the NFL doesn’t react that quickly or that swiftly. Unless Brady was arrested the night before a game the league wouldn’t impose suspension until the law enforcement process began. And if cleared, he would remain suspended until civil proceedings were completed.

  23. If this was a 5th round lineman playing for the Chargers, actions would be swift and harsh.

    But the league office has Jerry Jones in one ear wanting preferential treatment, and precedence setting cases and future considerations in the other, with Mara in between hoping to cash in for week one.

    League is hoping for something else to happen maybe for making the decision easier. Elliott still has a couple months to screw something up again, or someone else’s to do something bigger where th league can sweep the Elliot thing away.

  24. This was a problem for him at OSU, but around Columbus, things get covered up. Many times he had to be ushered out back doors of bars after causing problems. There is a reason his father had to move in with him. He is a problem and this won’t be his last one.

    What exactly do NFL background checkers do again?

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