In the Ezekiel Elliott case, arbitrator Harold Henderson distilled hundreds of pages of transcripts and documents down to an eight-page ruling that was neither surprising nor unexpected.
The official decision can accurately be summarized as follows: The Commissioner reached his decision in compliance with the terms of the Personal Conduct Policy, so it’s affirmed.
It’s a simple, dot-connecting exercise that makes it easy to shrug at various procedural defects and irregularities. The Commissioner didn’t personally observe the credibility of the witnesses? He didn’t need to. The Commissioner didn’t invite to the person who interviewed the accuser six times to a meeting aimed at helping him reach a decision? He didn’t need to. The accuser wasn’t required to testify at the appeal hearing? She didn’t need to.
The ruling makes no real effort to deal with obvious irregularities and oddities in the situation, like Director of Investigations Kia Roberts (who doubted the accuser’s credibility and believed Elliott shouldn’t be suspended) being excluded from multiple key meetings. Instead, Henderson paints with a broad brush, displays no curiosity or skepticism about the circumstances demonstrated during the appeal hearing (including the dismantling of the notion that injuries could be characterized and dated only by photos), and ultimately applies the kind of rubber stamp that a truly independent arbitrator never would have banged onto the paper.
It now remains to be seen whether Elliott can get the suspension overturned in court. The first battle focuses on delaying the suspension while the litigation unfolds. Then will come the attack on the decision. The former will take a couple of days; the latter will take at least several months.