As the six-game suspension for Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott was looming, MDS made an observation via Twitter that attracted plenty of attention: How does Elliott’s behavior compare to the conduct that resulted in a one-game suspension for former Giants kicker Josh Brown?
The explanation, whatever it may be, ultimately may be relevant to the appeal in Elliott’s case. The fact that Harold Henderson handled the Brown appeal and also will be handling the Elliott appeal makes it even more potentially relevant.
That said, Henderson didn’t reduce or otherwise alter Brown’s punishment. The league suspended him only one game, and Henderson affirmed it. So Henderson knows (or at least will be able to refresh his memory) regarding the details of the Brown case. Henderson will soon learn the details of the Elliott case. And Henderson will be able to consider whether Elliott’s proposed punishment meshes with Brown’s actual punishment.
In Brown’s case, the NFL reduced the suspension from six games to one due to mitigating factors that the league consistently has refused to disclose. In Elliott’s case, there was no adjustment for mitigating factors. While it may be difficult to draw apples-to-apples comparisons between the two cases, Elliott’s representatives may argue that the league failed to treat the two cases consistently, and that Elliott should be entitled to whatever lenience was afforded to Brown. (Other past cases could be relevant, too.)
Of course, the threshold argument on appeal will be that Elliott is innocent. An argument based on the Brown case would be a fallback position based on the punishment that applies if Henderson decides that the finding of guilt was accurate.
However it plays out, the clock is ticking. The NFL has confirmed that Elliott will be permitted to keep playing until a ruling is issued. As a practical matter, the ruling will have to come by Tuesday, September 5 in order to keep Elliott off the field for the regular-season opener against the Giants.