Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is rarely quiet about anything. In the five days since the NFL imposed a six-game suspension on running back Ezekiel Elliott, Jones amazingly has said nothing. Not a thing. Not a word. Not a peep.
All he’s said is that he’ll eventually say something.
Here’s why he’s being quiet. Jones recognizes the sensitivity of the Elliott case at this specific juncture. With the appeal now filed, the Commissioner first must decide whether to handle it himself, to assign it to a league employee, to farm it out to an independent arbitrator deemed to be friendly to the league’s interest (Harold Henderson), or to ask a truly neutral, independent arbitrator to handle it.
The next move is critical to the potential success of the appeal. Based on what the Commissioner decides, it could determine whether Elliott wins or loses.
Jones likely is opting for public silence while he privately lobbies Goodell to appoint a truly neutral and independent person to resolve the question of whether Elliott did indeed commit domestic violence. In this regard, Jones (and Elliott) have leverage that can be exerted in a subtle (or not so subtle) way.
Jones can make it clear that he won’t try to create any problems for Goodell (and many believe Jones will) if Goodell “does the right thing” (as Jerry would likely say) and delegates the appeal to an independent arbitrator. And Elliott’s camp can make it clear that they won’t take a scorched earth approach in the court of public opinion if Goodell chooses to allow someone with no connection to the case and no connection to the league to handle the appeal.
However it goes, Jones surely hopes that public discretion coupled with an aggressive private campaign will convince Goodell to give Elliott a truly fair shake when it comes to the resolution of his appeal.