The Ezekiel Elliott matter is not going to go quietly into the good night. The ruling was sure to lead to an onslaught of leaks, both in favor of Ezekiel Elliott and in favor of the NFL’s decision, to win the court of public opinion.
So far, there have been reports about things that the alleged victim said to Elliott, that Elliott filed an incident report in September alleging harassment, and this morning, a Yahoo report about threats on texts to release sex tapes.
The NFL came out with a strong statement against those leaks today, singling out the NFLPA:
That statement says that it is a common practice to prove the innocence of the accused by “discrediting the victim” and calls those tactics “shameful.”
The NFL ventured into uncharted territory in terms of a 6-game suspension in a case where the legal system did not pursue charges (and in light of the prosecutor’s public statements, it’s pretty safe to say that the same info leaking now was of concern in convincing a jury in this matter.) The public statement said of the decision not to prosecute:
“This is primarily due to conflicting and inconsistent information across all incidents resulting in concern regarding the sufficiency of the evidence to support the filing of criminal charges.”
In the past, the NFL has caught criticism for being too soft in cases where the legal system did impose a penalty (Ray Rice, Josh Brown). The Greg Hardy case was different, in that Hardy was initially found guilty in court, but was overturned on appeal after the accuser refused to cooperate.
Elliott was declared “Public Enemy No. 1” according to Adam Schefter last November, after that prosecutorial decision, and that came to fruition with the imposition of a suspension.
This decision–and the language in that rebuff of the NFLPA–seems to be a direct result of dramatic changes to the way the league handles domestic violence in creating a Vice President of Social Responsibility role and having several prominent female advisors participating in the process.
UPDATE: The NFLPA has responded–