Harold Henderson unlikely to alter Ezekiel Elliott suspension

AP

The Ezekiel Elliott appeal hearing starts on Tuesday. Whenever a ruling comes (and it surely will come before Week One), don’t expect Harold Henderson to reduce or scrap the six-game suspension.

According to Clarence E. Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Henderson is “unlikely” to vacate the punishment without the presentation of “new evidence” that would justify it. Also, Henderson won’t be inclined to reduce the suspension without Elliott showing contrition or admitting responsibility.

Elliott isn’t expected to admit guilt, given that he staunchly has professed his innocence. Likewise, with Henderson not requiring the NFL to make Tiffany Thompson available to be cross-examined, “new evidence” that could come from an aggressive interrogation that undermines her credibility can’t happen. (She also wasn’t cross-examined before the initial decision was made.) With Henderson also refusing to require the NFL to make available to Elliott’s lawyers transcripts and notes of the interviews of Thompson, Elliott’s lawyers won’t be able to search for something/anything that would cause the case against Elliott to collapse.

Henderson’s unwillingness to scrap or shrink the suspension without new evidence or contrition, respectively, highlights the confusion emanating from the entire appeal process. If, as the NFL previously has said, the standard on appeal is whether the initial decision was arbitrary and capricious, new evidence or contrition shouldn’t matter at all. The appeal would be heard based solely on the record of evidence generated in connection with the initial decision, and nothing more.

It seems like the standard on appeal, as a practical matter, is this: “Try to change my mind.” And Elliott’s lawyers will be making that effort with both hands tied behind their backs, given the inability to question Thompson and the reality that any effort by Elliott to prove his innocence will be regarded as a lack of contrition.

Initially, I was reluctant to call these proceedings a “kangaroo court.” Based on the definition of the term, however, it is.

Elliott didn’t get a fair hearing at the lower level (where the person who made the decision didn’t even attend the proceedings). Elliott won’t get a fair hearing on appeal. His only chance at getting a fair shake will be in court.

Yes, the NFLPA under the late Gene Upshaw agreed to this process. But Upshaw surely never intended that the Commissioner’s full power over matters of this nature would be not simply abused but warped, twisted, and bastardized.

It almost seems as if the NFL is pushing the boundaries as aggressively as possible in order to force the union to make a concession in order to change the rules. Ultimately, the question becomes whether all players will give up something in order to protect the small handful of players per year who find themselves on the wrong side of a process that makes third-world judges look like King Solomon.

19 responses to “Harold Henderson unlikely to alter Ezekiel Elliott suspension

  1. “It almost seems as if the NFL is pushing the boundaries as aggressively as possible in order to force the union to make a concession in order to change the rules. ”

    That’s actually a very astute observation and something that makes a lot of sense when you think about it. It’ becomes a huge chip to leverage the more awful they behave in what appears to be an upcoming bitter standoff.

  2. To quote the esteemed legal mind Jackie Chiles: That’s totally inappropriate. It’s lewd, lascivious, salacious, outrageous!

  3. We all heard Elliot had issues and then watched pull that girls top down while he was being investigated by the NFL. Sorry but I have zero empathy for this kid and have no problem with the NFL making an example that this type of behavior will not be tolerated.

  4. The punishment was not based on any evidence,so how can an appeal make any difference?

  5. In other words, the NFLPA will have to literally pay millions (or billions) to get a fair process – thats fundmentally why Roger is viewed as such a scum bag.

  6. Take it to court, Jerry. The accuser needs to be cross examined under oath! And, Meta data can be changed to fit ones needs, if one knows how.

  7. “Likewise, with Henderson not requiring the NFL to make Tiffany Thompson available to be cross-examined, “new evidence” that could come from an aggressive interrogation that undermines her credibility can’t happen”

    Out of curiosity, how often are people “cross-examined” in arbitration hearings?

  8. I think that you are over thinking this.

    This appeal is for Zeke to prove why the suspension should be reduced, I don’t believe this was ever going to be a full hearing. Since this isn’t a court of law, the burden falls to Zeke. That being stated, whether he is/was guilty is largely irrelevant. The situation he put himself in, caused a problem with the NFL, their fans, and their revenue stream. One of the days the players will wake up and realize the players like Zeke, Ray Rice, and the Greg Hardys out there cost the players money as well.

    He should admit to bad judgement, whether with the domestic violence, the incident at the parade, or any other act that he was accused of. At the very least he put himself in the position and that is what is costing him 6 games. Not the actual domestic violence charge.

  9. Don’t expect Henderson, who was appointed by Goodell, to change or throw out a suspension that was also handed out by Goodell. Thanks Captain Obvious…

  10. Perhaps the NFL should adopt the appeals process of NASCAR – “you can appeal, but you are still guilty regardless if you were or not”.

    And then the NFL could give the Patriots the Hendrick Motor Sports exemption where you get to win championships when you cheat, but you won’t win any if you don’t cheat. That is how James Mae Johnson of the 48 team has won all of his sham-pionships – won them all in years his team was caught cheating.

    Oh wait, the Patriots have never won a trophy without cheating … I guess they already use the NASCAR system!

  11. How can Elliott provide “new evidence” if they block her sabotaging/blackmail evidence or pretend Elliott can provide new evidence to exonerate himself from something he never did?

    Holy mackerel.

    Elliott must sue.

    One of these players has to sue to stop this. There is no other way.

  12. “The appeal would be heard based solely on the record of evidence generated in connection with the initial decision, and nothing more.”

    That’s the point. When you stop setting yourself up to sit in judgment, you might see that.

  13. All the people who say he should fess up and just take responsibility are idiots. If he didn’t do this, again I am not sure what really happened but there is stuff that question the credibility of the accuser, then why should he fess to being a domestic abuser if it’s not true?

    My problem with this is that the NFL has now placed Elliott in the same category with Rice, Brown and Hardy when really I am not sure if he did this. Has he made bad judgement in the parade incident, YES, but that incident doesn’t make him an abuser.

  14. Ultimately, the question becomes whether all players will give up something in order to protect the small handful of players per year who find themselves on the wrong side of a process that makes third-world judges look like King Solomon.

    No, they shouldn’t. It’s simple. Don’t do dumb things and you won’t be in this situation. Funny that well over 90% of players manage to play their entire career and not be in this situation. Why would all those players want to give up something to protect someone who’s not smart enough to stay out of trouble? I wouldn’t.

  15. But Upshaw surely never intended that the Commissioner’s full power over matters of this nature would be not simply abused but warped, twisted, and bastardized.
    —————–

    The problem is Goodell himself. When you are repeatedly caught in lies, all credibility of the process is lost until the liar goes.

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