The 30-page petition filed last night by Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott put the NFL in a very tough spot. And the NFL had two options for dealing with that tough spot.
The league on one hand could have admitted that Commissioner Roger Goodell didn’t know about Kia Roberts’ opinions regarding the credibility of Tiffany Thompson or the propriety of a suspension from Commission Roger Goodell, which would cause the case to collapse but would allow Goodell to seem fair and reasonable and willing to admit a mistake, irregularity, whatever in the process. On the other hand, the league could have claimed that Goodell knew about Roberts’ opinions and beliefs, short-circuiting the argument that a deliberate plan to conceal Kia Roberts’ views existed.
The league chose Door No. 2, arguing via NFL spokesman Joe Lockhart that the notion Goodell didn’t know about the opinions of Kia Roberts is false. The problem with that is this: Goodell’s awareness of the opinions of the person who interviewed Tiffany Thompson on multiple occasions makes Goodell’s so decision to suspend Elliott seem even weaker and more wobbly.
While awareness of Roberts’ opinions may help the league eventually prevail in a court of law (where the league usually wins), it will not help the NFL in the court of public opinion (where the league usually loses). Either Goodell didn’t know about Kia Roberts’ opinions, or he did. Neither outcome looks good for the league.