Roger Goodell put the NFL in a difficult spot with this mind-boggling Ezekiel Elliott 6-game suspension, and now the league is going to pay the price in the court of public opinion.
Elliott and the NFL Players Association filed suit in federal district court in Plano on Thursday night in hopes of gaining a temporary injunction to block the suspension, allowing him to play until the case is resolved.
According to the suit filed in U.S. District Court in Plano, just outside the Cowboys’ Frisco headquarters, the NFLPA said Elliott was subject to one of “the most fundamentally unfair arbitral processes conceivable.”
Does it feel like Elliott got railroaded? Certainly. And it’s going to get ugly, folks. The NFL has just fired back:
“They’re trying to create a grand conspiracy story where none exists,” league spokesman Joe Lockhart told NFL.com on Friday.
Lockhart also disputed key aspects of a report by The Fort Worth Star-Telegram on Thursday: that Lisa Friel, the league’s senior vice president of investigations, barred Roberts from the meeting in which Friel recommended a six-game suspension to Commissioner Roger Goodell; and that Roberts testified in the appeal hearing that she recommended no discipline.
Asked if it would be common for an investigator to make a disciplinary recommendation in such a case, Lockhart said: “No. In fact, at Kia’s level, she wouldn’t, and she didn’t. She made her point of view on particularly the credibility issues known in the report; they are reflected in the report. It is the commissioner and the commissioner’s sole role to decide on discipline. In fact, the union filed a grievance to force him not to delegate the decision” on disciplinary decisions under the personal conduct policy that was strengthened in Dec. 2014.
That’s very wordy and boring, but this is one question Roger Goodell should have to answer: If the NFL’s lone investigator recommended no suspension, how did the commish come upon his decision to give Elliott six games?
Somehow, I don’t think we’re going to get that.