Ezekiel Elliott's appeal of his six-game suspension for domestic violence is one of the biggest stories in the NFL right now. The hearing is supposed to end today and then we will have to wait and see what arbiter Harold Henderson decides as to the length of Elliott's ban, or if it even still exists.
This morning I had "Mike & Mike" on in the background while getting ready for work and Mike Greenberg began reading off the NFL's suspensions under the domestic violence (D.V.) policy since 2014. Of course, that was the year of the Ray Rice incident that brought the NFL's handling of domestic violence issues under public fire. A new policy was instituted that set a six-game minimum for D.V. incidents.
With the help of this article from Michael David Smith about the NFL's handling of domestic violence, here is a summary of the cases that have come between Ray Rice and Ezekiel Elliott:
- 2014 - Quincy Enunwa, Jets WR, was arrested and charged with assaulting a woman. Suspension: 4 games
- 2014 - Jonathan Dwyer, Cardinals RB, was arrested and charged for D.V. against his wife. Suspension: 3 games
- 2015 - Junior Galette, Washington LB, was arrested and charged with D.V. Charges were later dropped. Suspension: 2 games.
- 2015 - Joseph Randle, Cowboys RB, was arrested and charged but charges were later dropped. This was four months after a shoplifting arrest and other issues Randle had during a short, trouble-filled NFL career. Suspension: 4 games.
- 2015 - Andrew Quarless, Packers TE, was accused of firing a gun into the air during a domestic argument. Suspension: 2 games.
- 2016 - Josh Brown, Giants K, was arrested and charged with misdemeanor D.V. against his wife. Suspension: 1 game
In case you didn't get it the first five times, let me just make sure...
"ARRESTED AND CHARGED"
Those two words hang over this case more than any other fact, question, or opinion. The NFL, namely Roger Goodell, has routinely come down softer on players with legal arrests, charges and even admissions of guilt related to domestic violence. None of these apply in Ezekiel Elliott's case.
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.
It is fair to ask what Goodell and his cronies had that made them think any sort of suspension was warranted. It is imperative to ask what they had that made them suddenly decide to stick to the six-game minimum. Why would Goodell suddenly decide to drop the hammer on arguably the weakest case of domestic violence he's reviewed since the policy was enacted?
(That's a picture of Goodell and NY Giants owner John Mara, whose team plays the Cowboys in Week One. I'm just going to leave that there.)
(Oh, but go back up to that list and see Josh Brown again. See what team he played for. See how many games he got compared to the rest.)
You can't cite mandatory minimums when you've done nothing but undercut them for three years. Goodell has already broken his own D.V. policy with this history and it makes everything happening now with Ezekiel Elliott highly questionable, if not suspect for incompetence and even corruption.
You could argue that this isn't about Elliott but the NFL trying to reset the bar for domestic violence and add teeth back to their own policy. If that is the goal then they picked the wrong case to do it with. There is no arrest or charge, only an accuser with major credibility issues. The NFL has chosen the wrong scapegoat.
This situation reveals a lot about who and what Roger Goodell really is. At the least, he's inconsistent and therefore ill-equipped to handle such important and personally damaging issues as domestic violence and other personal conduct issues. His track record of incompetence in these matters is clear and it's the players and their reputations who suffer the most from Goodell's wishy-washy judgments.
Look at that picture again. This situation tells you what a lie it is, and why Goodell is deservedly booed at every draft. He is the last guy that should be welcoming these players to the NFL, given that he has consistently proven to have their well-being furthest from his mind. When it comes to the NFL relationship with its talent pool, the commissioner should be somewhere between the owners and the players. Goodell has always been the owners' puppet and easily swayed by what he thinks will appease public opinion.
Some have tried to excuse Goodell's treatment of Elliott as trying to "scare him straight." There's no denying that Zeke has had some maturity and decision-making issues, but can we talk about Joseph Randle again? His track record was awful going into his D.V. incident and yet still Goodell didn't give him the six-game minimum. The only thing consistent about Goodell is his inconsistency.
A real commissioner would look at nothing but Ezekiel Elliott, Tiffany Thompson, and the facts of the case. He would look at prior decisions and the reasoning that went into them. He wouldn't need appeals and courts to solve fairly simple issues that anyone in his position should be able to handle.
But no, that's not what we have in the NFL. We have a guy that is a cross between Pinocchio and a wet noodle. And sadly, it looks like we're stuck with him for a while.
I freely admit that I'm a Cowboys fan and, as such, have plenty of bias in this situation. But anyone who looks at the known facts and information about this case shouldn't be far behind Cowboys Nation in their outrage. All 32 fan bases of the NFL, even those in New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, should be angry about injustice.
Your favorite player may be the next on Goodell's docket. Whatever the next hot button issue is that has the public pointing fingers at the NFL, the unfortunate player who gets in Goodell's crosshairs will face his same unpredictable rulings. Even worse, he may be convicted by the NFL for a crime he didn't commit and no true judicial body saw fit to pursue.
This isn't about the Cowboys season or your fantasy football team. This is about a real person, 22-year-old Ezekiel Elliott, and a potentially false accusation that the NFL has now obtusely stamped right on his forehead. Even if Harold Henderson drops the suspension to just a couple of games, Zeke should strongly consider taking the matter to court. Accepting any suspension could be seen as an admission of some degree of guilt, and an innocent man (I hope) shouldn't have to live with that.
We will know soon what Henderson decided and then see how things unfold. Whatever the end result, Roger Goodell has already failed. Once again, he has allowed a situation to go too far and ultimately out of his hands. He's the worst fumbler in the history of the NFL.
Kicker Matt Bryant Should Be the Final Piece of Cowboys 2019 Offseason
The draft is done, DeMarcus Lawrence is re-signed, and the bulk of free agency activity has passed. The 2019 Dallas Cowboys have more than enough talent to compete this season, but there is still one last move I'd wish they'd make. Veteran kicker Matt Bryant, still one of the NFL's best even at almost 44 years old, could be the final piece to this offseason puzzle.
The Atlanta Falcons' longtime kicker, and franchise scoring leader, was not retained this year despite another standout season. He made 20-of-21 field goals, with a long of 57, in 2018.
Why Atlanta didn't keep Bryant hasn't been confirmed, but perhaps the team was just looking to avoid hanging on one year to late. But Matt, who ranks eight all-time in FG accuracy (86.2%), doesn't think he's done. He tweeted the following from his personal account in February:
"Over this past year I’ve been asked numerous times about retirement and how I feel. Well, I’m not retiring and I feel fine and plan on feeling even better with some changes to my offseason program!
As of now Matt Bryant remains a free agent, and I think the Dallas Cowboys should be very interested.
If you go up and down this Dallas roster, kicker is arguably its biggest liability. Brett Maher had some highlight moments in 2018, and won two Player of the Week awards, but he also was one of the league's worst kickers in overall FG accuracy.
The problem with Maher is that you can't teach his best skill; the accuracy from the high 50s and even low 60s is incredible. It's a true weapon that you have a hard time letting go of, which was evident last year when Dallas dumped Dan Bailey for Maher at final cuts.
But Matt Bryant might be the best of both worlds. He's been a 91% FG kicker overall this last three years and has made 18-of-22 attempts from 50 yards out or more.
Maher only made 80.6% of his kicks in 2018. He went from 6/7 from long range, but that tells you how shaky he was from closer in.
Those closer kicks are worth the same three points that the longer ones are, and how'd you like it if Dallas lost a critical game because their kicker couldn't make a 35-yarder?
I get the fear factor with an older guy like Matt Bryant. Heck, the Cowboys let Dan Bailey go when he was still just 30. But Bryant hasn't shown the red flags that Bailey did; he's still kicking as well as he ever has.
If nothing else, Dallas has the cap space and circumstances to bring in Bryant for a true competition with Maher. If Brett has improved his game and keeps his job, then that's awesome. But why not add some pressure now, though a position battle with one of the all-time greats, and see what Maher's really made of?
Seasons have been made, and shattered, by one kick. Unless the Cowboys have good reason for confidence in Brett Maher's development from last year, they could be carrying a significant liability into a year where they're trying to push for a Super Bowl.
If Matt Bryant could provide even a small amount of additional security, isn't he worth it?
Cowboys RB Mike Weber’s Injury Scare Continues Concerning Trend
Rookie RB Mike Weber had a brief scare earlier this week with a knee injury in practice, but thankfully the MRI came back with a good report. However, as he fights to have a future with the Dallas Cowboys, this health incident is a concerning reminder of Weber's recent history.
One reason that Weber fell to the seventh round of the 2019 NFL Draft was due to battling injuries during his last two years at Ohio State. He lost his starting job in 2017 due to ongoing hamstring issues and also had to miss time last year because of a foot strain.
Carrying the load for the Buckeyes is a far different workload than being second or third on the Cowboys' RB depth chart. But this latest scare happened in early May, just two weeks after Mike joined the team and well before the more strenuous activities of an NFL offseason.
A practice injury can cost you just as badly as one that happens in a game. And with Dallas already thin at RB, it could leave them severely shorthanded if it occurs during the regular season.
Many have projected that the Cowboys' RB group in 2019 would have Ezekiel Elliott as the obvious starter and then rookies Weber and Tony Pollard behind him. While Pollard was drafted three rounds ahead of Weber, he's not built to take a large number of carries if Zeke were to go out.
If Mike Weber does make the team, he would be expected to take a sizable role if something bad happen with Elliott.
The "injury prone" label is disastrous for any athlete, but especially a guy with no real claim to a roster spot. If Weber causes concern in the front office about his durability, they may go a different way at final cuts.
Remember, Mike's not just up against Pollard and Darius Jackson for a roster spot. There are still plenty of veteran free agent running backs out there that Dallas could turn to if they're not confident about their young prospects.
This isn't too say that one scary moment in May, which ultimately didn't amount to much, is reason to cut bait with Mike Weber. But when you stack it up with his injury history in college, it does make you wonder how he'll do over the course of an entire NFL season.
Hopefully, Weber bounces back from this and has a great summer. Former Buckeye RBs have treated Dallas well the last few years, and it'd be fantastic if Mike can provide the same solid solid depth that Rod Smith did.
But this latest news is just a reminder of why Dallas can't rest easy at running back just yet, and why they may still have another move to make to prepare for 2019.
Cowboys LB Jaylon Smith Graduating From Notre Dame
The 2019 season is right around the corner for the Dallas Cowboys, with OTA's and training camp getting ready to kickoff in the coming weeks/months.
Cowboys linebacker Jaylon Smith made the most of his offseason, going back to Notre Dame to finish out his college degree. Smith is set to graduate from Notre Dame this Saturday, and will walk to earn his degree in Film & Television.
Smith talked to DallasCowboys.com's David Helman about why it was so important for him to graduate and finish what he started at Notre Dame.
“When I left after my junior year, I promised my mom that I would go back and finish...Finishing my third year with the Cowboys, it was time.” - Jaylon Smith
2,025 @NotreDame undergraduates will receive degrees during Commencement Weekend. That contingent includes @thejaylonsmith Yes, the current @dallascowboys & former @NDFootball All-American linebacker, who took 21 credits this spring #4for40 #GraduatingChampions #CEV
Smith continues his leadership on and off the field, and we all send our congratulations to the Cowboys starting MIKE linebacker!
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