Yes, the Ezekiel Elliott case is about to get nasty.
The NFLPA has tapped lawyer Jeffrey Kessler to handle Tuesday’s appeal hearing, according to Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports. Kessler also will be involved in the litigation that is expected to follow, if arbitrator Harold Henderson upholds the six-game suspension.
Fueling the potential legal attack on the suspension is the fact that the NFL declined to name an arbitrator that the union regards as being truly independent. Henderson has refused to compel the league to make Tiffany Thompson available for cross-examination at the appeal hearing, and he has refused to force the league to produce the interview notes and transcripts generated by the league when interviewing Thompson.
Robinson points that out procedural flaws “opened the door for the union and quarterback Tom Brady to sue the NFL” after the league suspended Brady four games in 2015. But here’s the thing; the NFL actually sued first, picking a forum that it believed would result in victory (eventually, it did) before the union and Brady could sue.
So with Elliot’s side making it more and more clear that litigation is coming, the NFL could once again issue the appeal ruling and immediately file suit to defend it.
That dynamic should prompt Kessler and company to at least consider a preemptive lawsuit after Tuesday’s appeal hearing, arguing that the process was a ruse and that Henderson will be simply rubber-stamping the decision, with the league then rushing to court to prevent the player from pursuing justice in the forum of his choosing.