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
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.
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.
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.
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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