Thirteen months of NFL investigation into Dallas Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott have boiled down to three days of much of the same finger-pointing, accusations of procedural wrongdoing, and protection of public perception as Elliott began his appeal of the six game suspension issued on August 11th Tuesday.
Presenting his case to arbitrator Harold Henderson from an undisclosed New York location, the belief from the start of Elliott's appeal would be that some new information would need to be presented from his team for the suspension to be reversed or reduced. After over 25 hours of deliberation, not only has Elliott been able to do just this with the recently hired Jeffrey Kessler on his side (a lawyer that the NFL knows all too well), but plenty of new substantial details have surfaced on the league's poor handling of their initial investigation.
NFLPA alleging a "league-orchestrated conspiracy..to hide critical information which would completely exonerate Elliott" https://t.co/WUn9hK94g2
Henderson of course still represents the league and has been known to still rule in their favor despite a record of reducing some significant suspensions, but pressure that he reportedly now faces to make a decision will only expedite the airing of any final accusations on both sides over the coming days.
Ezekiel Elliott has another card left to play, as anything but a complete reversal of his six game suspension will likely lead to his case against the NFL reaching the courts. For the NFL, this appeal was their last chance to contain any wrongdoing they'll be forced to admit to and come to the correct decision on Elliott.
Although this is not solely a suspension handed down for domestic violence, Elliott's involvement with Tiffany Thompson remains the most important event, and an incident like the ones that led to Thompson's bruises (used as forensic evidence in the league's investigation) can only lead to a black and white ruling - whoever caused this harm to Thompson deserves legal consequence, and that person is either Ezekiel Elliott or not.
People within the NFL believe it was very likely not Ezekiel Elliott that abused Thompson.
In #Cowboys Ezekiel Elliott's appeal, they had a current NFL employee in Kia Roberts testify against the NFL. I mean... wow.
We've known that Elliott himself, the Columbus District Attorney, Jerry Jones, and many others believe Zeke is entirely innocent based on the evidence that has been made public thus far. What became known yesterday - a stunning addition to the above list - is much more volatile for the NFL.
Kia Roberts is the NFL's director of investigations, and has testified to Henderson that she recommended no suspension for Ezekiel Elliott following Roberts' interview with Thompson. Roberts' contributions to the case never saw the light of day, as it was ultimately Roger Goodell's power under the Collective Bargaining Agreement that spurred Elliott's suspension.
NFLPA filing calls for the court in Eastern Texas to vacate any suspension of Ezekiel Elliott based on the process issues. https://t.co/g9YRPaUXrT
From the start, the NFLPA has also been defending Ezekiel Elliott stronger then they have publicly for any player in recent memory. Late last night the news broke that they are pursuing a conspiracy case against the league in their orchestration of hiding key evidence that would exonerate Elliott.
It is unclear at this time what this most recent news means for the immediate results of Elliott's appeal, or how the NFLPA is expecting Henderson to rule.
Elliott was never arrested or charged by police after an investigation into Tiffany Thompson’s accusations. Not only that, but Thompson’s credibility has been ripped to shreds from more than one angle. Zeke even filed a harassment claim against her last year for repeated phone calls and messages, including threats to blackmail him.
This quote comes from Inside The Star Staff Writer Jess Haynie's deeper look at the NFL's handling of domestic violence as it pertains to the precedent they've tried to set - or not - with a young star of the game in Ezekiel Elliott. The fact that Elliott was never arrested or charged continues to loom incredibly large.
Roger Goodell never spoke to Thompson himself through the investigation, and Harold Henderson barred her testimony from Elliott's appeal. Instead, he has ended up with something much more poignant - further proof of Thompson's inability to be trustworthy, the league's ability to fairly investigate one of their players, and potentially even additional direct evidence of Elliott's innocence towards Thompson.
The Cowboys are all set to play the New York Giants to kickoff the regular season in nine days. As of this moment, they would still be playing without Ezekiel Elliott in the backfield. One way or another, Harold Henderson is going to have to make an incredibly tough decision very soon to cement Elliott's week one status - and more importantly his next step.
An Ezekiel Elliott that's strapping on his helmet and carrying the rock for America's Team on Sunday Night Football may be the best case scenario for the Dallas Cowboys, but it could be far from that for the NFL regardless of Elliott's intention to take this case to court following the announcement of these appeal results.
To think how incredibly close we may be to saying, "remember that time..." when it comes to Ezekiel Elliott being suspended for the first six games of the 2017 season which is upon us. We also may be just as close to collectively remembering where we were as Cowboys Nation when a second-year running back brought the NFL to court and created change in one of the most powerful businesses going right now.
Maliek Collins Playing Excellent for Cowboys Defense
For the Dallas Cowboys on the interior, a lot of the news consistently surround the availability of Defensive Tackle David Irving, but Maliek Collins is playing excellent right now. While I'm willing to be very patient with Irving because of the elite talent he brings, Maliek Collins should continue to start for the Dallas Cowboys at 3-technique defensive tackle.
Collins has been a player that the Cowboys have bounced between the nose tackle and the 3T position with the hopes of getting their best players on the field, and because of the lack of a consistent presence at the 1-technique or nose tackle position. Well, with Antwaun Woods taking control at the 1T, Collins has been able to play at the position where he's at his best. The 3-tech.
He hasn't put huge numbers in the sack column this season, but that doesn't mean he's been absent from being the disruptive player he's been through his first two and a half seasons.
During the Dallas Cowboys five game winning streak, Maliek Collins has led the Dallas Cowboys defensive tackles in total pressures with 13, according to Pro Football Focus. PFF combines sacks, quarterback hits, and hurries into their "pressures." Collins hasn't recorded a sack during the winning streak, but he has four quarterback hits and nine hurries. He's tied with Tyrone Crawford for third in total pressures behind DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory over the last five weeks.
Over the last five weeks, Collins leads the defensive tackles in solo tackles with five and is tied with Crawford and Antwaun Woods with three run stops on defense, according to Pro Football Focus. Collins has also has two tackles for loss in the last five games and recovered Tyrone Crawford's force fumble on Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Collins had six sacks in his rookie season when he played primarily as the 3T, which allowed him to see more one-on-one blocks against opposing interior offensive linemen. Especially with the way the rest of the defensive line is playing.
With the Cowboys on the road to face the Indianapolis Colts this week, Collins is going to have a tough matchup with a very good Colts offensive line, in particular, rookie Quentin Nelson. Collins ability to get pressure on Andrew Luck on the interior is a huge key for the Dallas Cowboys this week. We know that Gregory and Lawrence will get their pressures, but if Andrew Luck is able to step up into a clean pocket, it will make for a much more challenging game for the Cowboys secondary.
Collins has proved to be up to any task over the last five weeks and if he's able to keep playing at such a high level, he'll make the Cowboys coaching staff, and the rest of Cowboys Nation forget about using other defensive tackles. For the Cowboys to make a deep push in the playoffs, they'll need Collins to be a big time player for them moving forward.
Amari Cooper Wins 2nd NFC Offensive Player of the Week Award of 2018
For the second time in just three weeks, Dallas Cowboys receiver Amari Cooper has been named the NFC Offensive Player of the Week.
Cooper scored three touchdowns, including the game winner in overtime, to lead the Cowboys to victory last Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles. He has 10 catches for 217 yards, which led all NFL receivers last week.
After his record-setting performance during week 14, @AmariCooper9 is the FIRST #DallasCowboys to win NFC Player of the Week twice in a season! → https://t.co/kvBDIeOgBd #ProBowlVote #ProBowlVote #ProBowlVote #ProBowlVote #ProBowlVote #ProBowlVote
As the official website stated, Cooper is the first Cowboy to win the award twice in the same year. He's also the first Cowboy to be named Offensive Player of the Week since Ezekiel Elliott in 2016.
Before this year, Elliott was the only Dallas player to win the Offensive award in three seasons. Cooper has now done it twice in three weeks.
Since being traded to the Cowboys, Amari Cooper has amassed 40 catches for 642 yards and six touchdowns.
His wasted time in Oakland may keep Cooper out of the Pro Bowl this year, but he's already become a fan favorite in Cowboys Nation. Congratulations to Amari for another well-deserved award!
David Irving Out Again for Cowboys, Does Defense Need Him?
Dallas Cowboys Defensive Tackle David Irving, once a key member of the team's defense, will not make his return after all against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday. For the second straight week, Irving was reportedly trending towards suiting up before being ruled out. The Cowboys haven't missed his unique presence for 13 weeks (playing against the Jaguars and Redskins), including through an ongoing four game win streak that began with a win against these Eagles on the road.
In that road win, veteran Tyrone Crawford recorded a sack and three tackles, while Antwaun Woods added two for a Dallas defense that held Philadelphia to 23 first downs and 71 rushing yards. The Eagles managed to cross the Cowboys' 30-yard line just four times.
There are many scenarios in which the Cowboys could have cut ties with Irving for not being worth the off-field trouble he's caused - beginning the season with a four game suspension. The absolute best case scenario is what they've realized amidst this turnaround, with other defensive linemen taking advantage of the opportunity left behind by Irving.
While it can still be true that Irving would make more splash plays than the likes of Crawford, Woods, Maliek Collins, and Caraun Reid, this defensive tackle group deserves praise for their ability to step in. Pass rush ability is one thing teams can't have enough of, and the Cowboys are missing some with Irving, finding ways to win thanks to the other traits these defenders bring to the table.
Cowboys Passing Game Coordinator Kris Richard may effectively be the team's defensive coordinator with an emphasis on the back seven, but DC Rod Marinelli's impact is still felt - particularly up front. Regardless of where they're lined up and deployed, the Cowboys front four is expected to be disruptive on every snap, something this scrappy unit excels at.
Prepared once again to play on the edge this season, Crawford is thriving at his original position of 3T-DT. Crawford has two sacks, nine total tackles, and three other hits on the quarterback over the past four weeks. Leading by example with a relentless spirit on every play, Crawford has meant just as much to the Cowboys defensive ends as Irving could.
In a short period of time, the Cowboys have gone from building up Irving thanks to his transcendent ability to make those around him better to simply -- and importantly -- being better across the defense.
Led by DeMarcus Lawrence as their premier rusher, the Cowboys defensive line is a lot for opposing offenses to contain. The "Hot Boyz" work up front has allowed Linebackers Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch to play fast and make plays all over the field.
Maliek Collins, battling back from his second broken foot in three years, is proving again he's a patented Marinelli guy. Collins' play speaks for itself when considering if the Nebraska product is best as a 3T or 1T tackle. Wherever he's asked to play, Collins creates penetration with an explosive first step and can finish at the quarterback with an array of power rush moves.
At 7-5 and fighting for their playoff lives, the Cowboys are done making excuses on the 2018 season. Their strides on defense speak for themselves, and with a group that keeps Dallas in every game they'll play, the door remains open for David Irving to earn snaps again when ready.
The Cowboys don't know any better than their play without Irving right now, and as winners of four straight, it's worth questioning if we'll see Irving over the last three weeks of the regular season.
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