The NFL is just taking their sweet time with this Ezekiel Elliott thing. It's been well over a year now and there is still zero resolution to his involvement in an alleged domestic violence incident. We've seen evidence implying the allegations are made up. Granted we may not have all the evidence, but if there's more, no one but the NFL knows about it.
Here's a theory. Perhaps it's out there, but here it is nonetheless.
The NFL has very little interest in wrapping up the investigation because it gets fringe fans intrigued at this time of year. Fringe fans get drawn in every time Adam Schefter tweets new sourced info, and gets clicks every time he writes a report. There is intrigue even beyond the field.
With how the NFL has handled domestic violence issues in the past, people who aren't even fans of the league watch to see how the league is going to handle this issue.
During the down time of the offseason, when it seems a resolution to the investigation could have been announced, we got things like “the investigation is ongoing.”
During the first few weeks of training camp, statements have been released saying the NFL has concluded its investigation. And more recently they said they wouldn't make any announcements any time soon.
So what are they waiting for? They are waiting for as many people to be engaged in the NFL. They want to dominate the news cycle.
While on-field activities excite the fans and the super fans, it's the drama of a player being accused of off-field issues for the most popular sports franchise in North America that draws in the fringe fans and non-fans.
In other words, resolving this matter isn't good business for the NFL.
A long drawn out investigation shows the world that they are serious about domestic violence. The constant updates of non-updates continues to generate clicks and interest through their major media outlets; ESPN, Yahoo!, Fox Sports, CBS, and the NFL Network. Nothing brings in ratings and clicks like TMZ-style drama.
The beginning of training camp and the preseason games don't really offer a lot of drama to fringe and casual fans. Let's be honest, casual fans aren't all that interested in left guard competitions or how many wide receivers will be on the roster. They care about the stars and their impacts on the field.
Ezekiel Elliott is one of the biggest non-quarterback stars in the league, and he's only entering his second year. He has the trademark “feed me” motion after big runs. His “kettle hop” from 2016 made such a huge impact on Salvation Army fundraising efforts that the NFL declined to fine Elliott for his touchdown celebration.
Fantasy Footballers around the world are clicking articles trying to figure out just what to do with Ezekiel Elliott in their fantasy drafts, just like with Le'Veon Bell last season. Suspension could hurt the draft stock of one of the top three assets in fantasy football. As we get deeper into preseason, more and more leagues will hold their drafts, adding more and more interest into just what will happen. More clicks means more revenue for everyone invested in the NFL as a product, including the NFL.
The league can draw out the investigation and keep people intrigued by what's going on. Ratings, clicks, advertising, and revenue are the name of the game for the NFL.
As the Dallas Cowboys prepare for a potential Super Bowl run, the league creates more storylines with the threat of a suspension to one of its star players.
Delaying a decision only adds intrigue to the league as teams begin to prepare for the 2017 NFL season.