As the football-following world waits for a ruling from the league office on the long-lingering Ezekiel Elliott investigation, an interesting wrinkle has emerged regarding the internal dynamics.
Commissioner Roger Goodell reportedly has had no involvement in the matter.
Via Dom Cosentino of Deadspin.com, “Goodell has distanced himself so much from this case that he hasn’t even been present for any of the disciplinary hearings involving Elliott.”
It’s unclear how many actual hearings have occurred regarding Elliott, but the league usually imposes discipline under the Personal Conduct Policy only after the player has met with the Commissioner. If Elliott has not yet met with the Commissioner and if Elliott receives a suspension, that will be odd, to say the least.
The report from Cosentino is consistent with information PFT consistently obtained during the 2016 season as to the investigation, with a source explaining on multiple occasions that the investigation was being handled exclusively by chief league investigator Lisa Friel and NFL COO Tod Leiweke.
The implication of this new report is clear — Goodell, if he’s indeed keeping away from the Elliott case, may be trying to avoid any blame for the final outcome. Owner Jerry Jones repeatedly has reiterated his belief that no domestic violence occurred, and he reportedly accosted Friel last year over the issue.
Some believe Jones has made it clear that he won’t go along quietly if the league suspends Elliott, and Jones already has made it clear in a separate context that he wants all owners to be involved in determining the Commissioner’s compensation, with the goal of reducing it. Jones could attempt to advance this crusade, or possibly try to reduce the Commissioner’s pay to zero dollars plus benefits, if Jones believes that Goodell is responsible for the decision.
Common sense suggests that he is, regardless of whether Goodell personally makes the decision or has any role in it at all. So even if Goodell is laying low in the hopes of avoiding Jerry’s wrath, the nuance may not matter to Jones if/when the outcome causes him to take on 345 Park Avenue.