Elliott alleges existence of a “conspiracy” to suspend him

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A case that already has been nasty has gotten even nastier. And what appears to be a clumsily constructed case against Ezekiel Elliott could be on the verge of a collapse. And the collapse could shake the foundation of 345 Park Avenue.

In 30-page petition filed late Thursday in a Texas federal court, Elliott contends that he was the victim of a “League-orchestrated conspiracy . . . to hide critical information” from Commissioner Roger Goodell and others in connection with the domestic violence allegations made against Elliott by Tiffany Thompson. Elliott, who seeks a reversal of the suspension, argues that NFL Director of Investigations Kia Roberts concluded that Thompson “was not credible in her allegations of abuse,” and that insufficient evidence existed to corroborate her claims. Elliott alleges that the opinions of Kia Roberts were concealed from critical aspects of the disciplinary process.

The contention of a conspiracy emanates from the alleged decision to keep Roberts away from a June 26 hearing, at which time the evidence was presented to four outside experts who would make recommendations to Goodell, and from a separate meeting with Goodell. The focal point of the conspiracy allegation seems to be NFL Special Counsel for Investigations Lisa Friel.

Roberts, according to the petition, was the only lead investigator to interview Thompson, and Roberts co-authored a 160-page investigation report. Roberts nevertheless was not present for the key proceeding that resulted in the initial six-game suspension, when evidence was presented to (and questions were posed by) the four experts who advised Goodell on discipline.

Friel herself allegedly told Goodell during a separate meeting that there was sufficient evidence to justify discipline. Roberts allegedly was not present for that meeting, which means that Goodell never heard about her concerns regarding Thompson’s credibility.

“[T]he NFLPA and Elliott do not seek in this Petition for the Court to make its own determinations about Elliott’s or Thompson’s credibility, or any other matter of fact-finding properly left to the arbitrator,” the petition states. “Rather, the controlling and paramount legal question presented here is whether an arbitration concerning the existence of ‘credible evidence’ for employee discipline based on ‘he-said/she-said’ claims of domestic violence can be fundamentally fair when senior NFL Executives have conspired to obscure (including from the Commissioner and his advisors) their own Director of Investigations’ conclusion that there was no credible evidence upon which to impose discipline, and the arbitrator has refused to require the NFL to make available for testimony and cross-examination: (i) the accuser whose credibility is at issue (or the investigative notes of her six interviews), and (ii) the Commissioner who was deprived of critical facts in making his disciplinary determination”

The petition also points to various procedural flaws, including the decision of the league to insulate Thompson from cross-examination and a refusal to share investigation notes from six different NFL interviews of Thompson. The petition likewise chides arbitrator Harold Henderson for refusing to require testimony from Goodell, who made the decision to impose discipline.

“Without testimony from the Commissioner, it was not possible to determine the full impact of the conspiracy, or precisely what the Commissioner knew or did not know about his co-lead investigator’s conclusion that there was not sufficient credible evidence to proceed with any discipline under a League Personal Conduct Policy that requires ‘credible evidence’ to support the charges in a case like this, where the player has been accused of domestic violence, but law enforcement investigated and rightly declined to bring any charges due to conflicting evidence and inconsistent accounts of the alleged events,” the petition explains.

The procedural flaws were obvious throughout the various steps of the process. On Thursday night, the misgivings of Kia Roberts became apparent for the first time. If, as the petition claims, Roberts was kept away from key meetings that resulted in the suspension, the entire case against Elliott could implode.

At a minimum (if the claim of Roberts’ non-involvement is accurate), Goodell should be required to vacate the discipline and make the decision all over again, with the full benefit of Roberts’ conclusions and opinions being shared both with Goodell and the outside experts.

Separate questions will arise regarding whether and to what extent this highly irregular circumstance (if, again, the allegations are accurate) could or should affect the ongoing employment of various persons whose fingerprints are on the alleged conspiracy. Depending upon how deep the rabbit hole goes, it’s possible that the ensuing shakeup could go all the way to the very top of the organization.

60 responses to “Elliott alleges existence of a “conspiracy” to suspend him

  1. Watch the Media and fans react. It doesn’t matter who know what or when. Everyone will blame Goodell, even though he tried to not be judge and jury. The league needs to get out of the business of ‘discipline’ and go back to making the game better or their may not be a ‘game’ left to play.

  2. This kid is about to become the richest player in the NFL and none of it will be paid by the Cowboys. Hope Fraudger enjoyed that 40 million a year while he had it because it is about to belong to Zeke

  3. The man (Goodell) is paid 40 million a year and his shop is a complete clown show. I mean some of this stuff is basic, yet the NFL in their arrogance and hubris, work backwards on cases. ‘Figure out a narrative then shape the evidence to fit the narrative’ (why? because we can!).

    I don’t know if this will be the beginning of the end for Goddell but this one is bad. It looks bad.

    This is bad in a way that the everyman/layman can understand.

    “Fair play” is an essential part of justice. You simply can’t launch a “impartial” investigation to “uncover the facts”, then essentially lock the lead investigator in a closet when the “facts” don’t fit the required PR narrative.

    Some heads will have to be served up over this affair.

  4. Soon as the NFLPA started leaking texts Goodell was going to bring the hammer down especially with the DA, and medical examiner believe it did take place. Look the the bruises on her, they aren’t from a fight at a night club. It’s from her being forcibly held down against her will with enough force to leave marks.

    This isn’t a court case either, less burden of proof and have no right to cross examination either your accuser or your boss. Goodell saw the pics, heard from the DA, medical examiner, police statements and saw all the texts. Please NFL give the texts to Mort.

  5. “Elliott alleges existence of a “conspiracy” to suspend him”

    I’m not saying that I was the first to post a reply that somebody was conspiring, but I was the first to post a reply that somebody was conspiring.

  6. You can’t contend a conspiracy exists here and turn around and say the Pats, Saints, etc were legitimate cases.

    The NFL front office is dirty from top to bottom.

  7. So, just to be clear, NOBODY who actually TALKED to his accuser ended up having any say in the suspension? Is this what I am meant to understand?

  8. This couldn’t be clearer that the league needs to stop these investigations. They have botched every single investigation they have ever done and I know the reason for doing this is to try to save face and show the public that they are proactive. But every time they run one of these investigations, they only make themselves look stupid.

    There will be a work stoppage because I don’t see how players re-up with the league so the league can keep running bush-league investigations.

  9. This is what happens when the NFL tries to appease the people who think someone should be “punished” based solely on allegations. The same people who are usually so gung ho about supporting law enforcement and prosecutors turn right around and discount those entities decisions in these situations. Shame on those people, and shame on the NFL for trying to placate them.

  10. At what point is one of these players going to sue Roger Goodell and/or the league over these kinds of things? The cost of legal representation, personal time , reputation damage etc. I’m not saying these guys are saints, but it seems like they really don’t get a fair shake during these rulings. (Most of the time)

  11. This could be the end for Roger. How can a 13 billion a year enterprise look like such a clown show on something so high profile?

  12. Come aboard Eagles fan and Redskins fan. If Friel is allowed to continue to work at 345 she’ll be coming after one of your guys next, then likely key stars in the NFC as a whole or at least anyone who stands between her beloved Giants and the Super Bowl.

    When Goodell goes down, Friel must be shown the door at the same time.

  13. Considering what we already know about the Kangaroo Court operation of the NFL and the words of the accuser and her friend about falsifying and mischaracterizing “evidence,” he’s not wrong.

  14. This will not end up well for you, Zeke. When you openly challenge the NFL on integrity issues, be prepared for them to come at you from all angles. You won’t win this fight. The NFL is highly unethical and biased, but challenging that will only hurt you and your team.

  15. Conspiracy is a very difficult thing to prove, and courts hate frivolous charges, so Zeke better have some great evidence on his side or else he may lose.

    What’s also interesting is that this case is likely bankrolled by Jones, so it’s really like Jerry Jones v. The League he helped create.

  16. Lisa Friel should be fired immediately. She was hired to investigate these matters, but it’s apparent she is out to pick and choose who should receive punishment. Josh Brown 1 game and Zeke 6 games ? This lady has no business being in the NFL handling these cases.

  17. When you exclude the findings of the lead investigator and then dont allow her or her notes to be part of Goodelll’s decision…….the process is anything but fair or truthful. Goodell needs to go!

  18. This was all orchestrated by Roger Goodell so that he would have plausible deniability when the whole thing went south.

  19. All this and worse happened in the FrameGate case against Brady…They even had a Judge throw out the case because he said the league had no evidence of a violation of the rules…. The NFL will do what it wants when it comes to Player discipline. All you people crying now should have been supporting Brady instead of whooping it up when he got suspended. I hope it a player on your team next.

  20. I don’t like Elliott but I hope he prevails. This case was handled even worse than deflate-gate & bounty-gate. Time to take back some of that authority from Goodell.

  21. The league releases info about Elliot and the “investigation” into him which slants the court of public opinion against him. They let it hang out there for an extended period. They conceal and/or ignore information that would result in him receiving no discipline. They rewrite the report (Pash at it again?) to justify suspending him. The Giants fan who is the NFLs Special Counsel For Investigations presents the falsified and flawed “report” to the commissioner.

    Huh. Where have we seen a pattern like this before?

    I full expect another Judge Berman moment. “What evidence do you have that Ezekiel Elliot committed domestic violence?”. None your honor.

    How long will this corruption be allowed to continue in Roger Goodell’s National Integrity League? Because it sure runs awfully deep.

  22. Why don’t these owners just go ahead and fire Goodell already? How tarnished does that shield have to get before they take some action?

    There can’t be a shortage of spineless lackeys out there that would be willing to take the job.

  23. Conspiracy? Yeah…Because the NFL knows the best thing for its popularity and continued success is to play the games without its youngest, most exciting players.

    It would be nice if just once a player would man up. I guess that’s asking too much.

  24. Why would the League want to conspire against its stars and its most important owners? It doesn’t make sense now and it didn’t make sense with Brady. The only reason you punish these players is because you believe they did something wrong.

    Whether that evidence is good or not is another matter.

    Though since I believe the DA of Columbus when he says he things Elliott did something bad to his girlfriend, I really can’t say I have much sympathy for Elliott. He deserves a fair shake, but if he really did her that woman, he should own up to it and accept responsibility instead of looking for conspiracies.

  25. Dear Lord, its not a conspiracy! Stop hitting people, its that simple! There was no conspiracy against brady, or big ben when he was supsended, or AP or Ray Rice.

  26. fballguy says:
    September 1, 2017 at 9:09 am

    Conspiracy? Yeah…Because the NFL knows the best thing for its popularity and continued success is to play the games without its youngest, most exciting players.

    Unfortunately, the NFL cares more about trying to repair their image as it relates to their mishandling of domestic violence. Too bad this latest case makes them look even worse.

  27. Footballfanz says:
    September 1, 2017 at 9:28 am

    Dear Lord, its not a conspiracy! Stop hitting people, its that simple! There was no conspiracy against brady, or big ben when he was supsended, or AP or Ray Rice.

    Psigate was fraud, and this case against Elliott is fraud. Those other guys had it coming.

  28. So he’s launched a smear campaign against his victim and now is accusing his employer of a conspiracy to single him out for punishment. Nothing to see here.

  29. Very few owners have a LOT of power, Kraft and Jones are two of them. Kraft was 1 of 3 owners to push for Goodell to get a 7 yr $300 million dollar contract. He thought he deserved $30 mil plus per year……….until he gets caught, then goodell isnt fit for his job. Roger has ZERO reason to attack the owner who gave him $300 million, how many on this site would actively conspire against their boss who chooses their salary? Logically, it makes zero sense. So its conspiracies, its not some personal vendetta by Roger, its him doing his job against teams or players who break the rules and or cheat. Take the tin foil off your heads, use common sense and just realize people cheat and people do bad things.

  30. Opposing fans will celebrate just as they did when the Patriots got hammered by Goodell but you never know, it could be one of your team’s star players getting railroaded in the future despite a lack of evidence and proper procedure (unless you’re a Giants or Jets fan)

  31. “Roberts allegedly was not present for that meeting, which means that Goodell never heard about her concerns regarding Thompson’s credibility.”

    Someone doesn’t need to be present for their concerns to be made known. It only takes one more Roger the Dodger lie to undo it which makes that a fairly weak hook to hang your hat on. This is a league that during another case admitted in open court it had no evidence but suspended a player anyway. As always one should be prepared for the league office to move the goal posts in any way it suits them.

  32. fballguy says:
    September 1, 2017 at 9:09 am
    Conspiracy? Yeah…Because the NFL knows the best thing for its popularity and continued success is to play the games without its youngest, most exciting players.

    It would be nice if just once a player would man up. I guess that’s asking too much.
    No conspiracy? Fine … Than why not let Kia Roberts testimony reach Goodell? I suppose we’re going to wheel out the because the NFL said it wasn’t required to justify the no conspiracy angle?

  33. I despise Godel, but he is not the one who has acted in manner of Zeke. The player but himself in this position by his past actions. Why everyone want to point fingers at everyone but the guy who once more placed himself in this situation. What you all think Godel said lets go after Zeke. Come on.

  34. sdelmonte says:
    September 1, 2017 at 9:20 am

    Why would the League want to conspire against its stars and its most important owners?

    How much more evidence do you need that Goodell does exactly that?

  35. If Goodell was aware of Kia Roberts testimony like Joe Lockhart said it’s not much of a conspiracy. Goodell relied on the four person panel’s opinion.

  36. Burfict should sue as well. Suspended 3 games for a legal hit. If it were illegal, why’d they reduce the suspension. The NFL has been on a witch hunt since the hit on Antonio Brown…which came after death threats from Steelers players and them taking out Gio Bernard.

  37. This is why the NFL should limit itself to football and football only. It shouldn’t try to be a law enforcement agency, or a social engineering organization,or a vehicle to “raise awareness” for anybody or anything. Football is a great game that people love to play and watch. Leave it at that, NFL, and leave the policing, and preaching to everybody else. Sports should be something people of all walks and beliefs should be able to safely talk about without all kinds of complicating BS.

  38. As usual I am in the minority here but I don’t think there is a conspiracy. Having the league best players out for any length of time isn’t good for the game and that isn’t good for the league. Use your brains. Owners make more money when they put a product on the field that people want to buy. When they don’t, no one buys it and they don’t make money. You following? The league – as jacked up as it is – can’t exist by having vendettas against people.

    The posters here often remind me of the people creating a gas crisis here in Dallas that doesn’t really exist. Always looking for drama where there is none. The guy did *something*. And we know some of the things he did. I don’t want lawsuits as part of my game. I just want to watch the best football I can get and supportive bloggers and posters who encourage these people to seek remedy outside of what is essentially a game is ruining that. Profoundly.

  39. Now players are pursuing law suits against the NFL. This bodes poorly for the NFL long term. The NFL has it’s rules and procedures. Owners of teams and players sign-on to accept those procedures and policy’s. Anybody can sue anybody. That doesn’t mean it won’t be thrown out of court and Elliott will be left with a multi-million dollar lawyers bill. Public laws can’t tell businesses how to run their businesses, unless there are labor law violations. Period. A jury would “automatically” find in Elliott’s favor as jury’s generally decide against big business and in favor of the little guy. Next it could be Kaepernick. He could sue the NFL for “blackballing” as he hasn’t been able to find a job. Next, it’ll be players “free speech” law suits for demonstrations on NFL platforms. The NFL needs to clamp down and protect the brand. They have a legitimate business enterprise. If players don’t like it after they sign contracts then they should quit and do something else.

  40. I don’t think there’s a conspiracy here, I do think that the NFL is woefully inept in it’s ability to investigate and punish players. Can you really sue someone in federal court over the fact that they’re stupid or have no idea what they’re doing?

  41. For all those people who keep citing article 46, can you please show me in there where it says Rodger can do whatever he wants. I just read it and it doesn’t say anything like that at all. If you read it seems like whoever the hearing officer appointed for the case/appeal has more power because it’s their findings in the hand written statement that are binding to suspension being upheld or not. Goodell was the hearing officer in deflategate. He wasnt in this one. Whether deflategate was a conspiracy or not I don’t know. This one just adds another layer to the possible corruption.

    What Elliot is doing is trying to do is prove the officer involved left key information out of their findings which would then be a violation of article 46. If they can prove that they would win. How easy that would be I don’t know. If it does go to court and the right people are put under oath it will be easier.

    A copy of the whole CBA can be found on Google in less than 3 seconds. Also the findings in most cases especially deflategate can be as well. Go look it up. Thanks.

  42. And in other news, I have yet to watch a pre-season game this year…may not watch a regular season the way things are going!

  43. I can imagine the conversations in the league office while all this took place…..

    “You know, even though he’s done some pretty boneheaded things that go against the conduct policy we put in place, Ezekiel Elliott has become an instant super star in this league. He’s bringing in tons of money through jersey sales, ratings are going up, the most popular team in the league is actually competitive and they have young, flourishing stars to keep them competitive for years to come and he even helped the Red Cross get more donations. I have an idea, lets get this guy suspended for 6 games!!!”

    Yeah, not buying it. Quit being a moron and putting yourself in dumb situations where people will start to question your character.

  44. How many more silly kangaroo court decsions have to come out before the NFL has it has no business trying to do law enforcements. Deflategate, bountygate, bulllygate and Ray Rice fiasco it’s bizarre nonsensical

  45. The Cowboys might be wise to be careful what they wish for.

    Even without the domestic violence issue, it is obvious this juvenile delinquent is prone to taking wrong turns and making wrong decisions.

    If he floats on this suspension it could very well give him the “I am untouchable” attitude which will only speed him up on the wrong road he has been heading down.

    I hate to state this… But Roger might have the right idea (Give the kid a check up from the neck up. Give it to him right now) while he is still young and nip this poor behaviour at the bud.

  46. The deflategate case and those before it showed that the league doesn’t have to prove anything, has no obligation to conduct an independent, thorough or even unbiased investigation and, per the terms of the collective bargaining agreement, can punish any player at any time for any reason they deem appropriate.

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