Welcome to the Ezekiel Elliott case, Mr. Henderson. On the very first day that the NFL announced that Harold Henderson – and not Commissioner Goodell – will hear Elliott's official appeal of his six game suspension, the NFL released a potent statement on the state of a case that has taken a turn for the worse in the ever-important court of public opinion.
New NFL statement pic.twitter.com/KJ64RDHVB2
The move seemingly backfired quickly on the league, as the NFLPA responded to the above NFL statement with one of their strongest defenses of a player in recent memory.
The public statement issued on behalf of every NFL owner is a lie. The NFLPA categorically denies the accusations made in this statement. pic.twitter.com/OFOGQY91Ai
The “new lows” bit from the NFLPA here is particularly scathing, as the NFL does truly deserve support in their efforts to bring the truths of any harm their employers cause to victims of any kind to light. Belief in the league's ability to justly do just this though have come into question with a berating of screenshots that Tiffany Thompson sent Ezekiel Elliott via text message on Twitter, quotes from Thompson cited by key witnesses, and forensic evidence of her bruises (that Thompson herself of course posted publicly to Instagram).
As if anyone needed this reminder, all of this comes after the league launched a 13 month investigation into a case that was dismissed by the the DA in Ohio.
Elliott's camp has not added any new information to support their firm stance that Ezekiel is entirely innocent of any abuse against Thompson, while the NFL has tried but failed miserably to provide anything concrete as to why Elliott was suspended for six games despite the lead investigator in the case finding it hard to believe Tiffany Thompson. Even worse is calling the public's attempt for the truth to surface “shameful”, as Thompson coming forward about her incidents with Elliott was never a problem for the league – despite Roger Goodell not meeting with her directly.
After just one day on the trail, these are the latest additions to an ongoing saga with no end in sight for Cowboys' star running back Ezekiel Elliott that Harold Henderson will have to sort through before an appeal hearing that can keep this case out of court.
Henderson most notably overheard Greg Hardy's domestic violence appeal in 2015, reducing a then ten game suspension down to four. Further reports on Henderson mention that, while he'll look to still operate in the NFL's best interest, he has the experience and track record to handle this high-profile Ezekiel Elliott appeal the right way.
Here's what Harold Henderson said on reducing Greg Hardy's suspension in July 2015. It was about precedent/notice, not conduct. pic.twitter.com/Ghefix1PFf
Henderson had this to say about his Hardy decision, agreeing that the NFL operated within their rights to suspend Hardy ten games before providing a check against this powerful piece of the CBA (Article 46) and reducing the penalty.
Will six games be “simply too much” for Ezekiel Elliott given that the NFL suspended him for “conduct detrimental to the league”, for which at this point he is just as guilty of as the very league itself through their handling of this?
The answer to this may mercifully come for Cowboys Nation to deal with sometime soon after August 29th, when Elliott's appeal hearing will be held.
Until then we can expect more stories like this from D Magazine to further create division between two sides – that of Ezekiel Elliott's and that of Tiffany Thompson's – as neither side will be put in a position to realize that there's a common cause to be fought for here in regards to the NFL's power and the truth about a string of domestic disputes.