Dallas Cowboys’ running back Ezekiel Elliott was suspended on August 11 after the NFL completed its 13-month investigation into allegations of domestic violence made in July 2016. The account from the alleged victim is frightening and despicable. Although Elliott was never charged in connection to the events by Columbus police, the NFL has the power, granted to it in the collective bargaining agreement, to discipline players even if the judiciary system does not.
Enter NFL commissioner Roger Goodell — most often times the judge, jury, and executioner, when it comes to matter like these. And now as the player prepares for his appeal hearing on August 29, it’s not just Elliott’s reputation that is up in the air. Goodell’s is on the line, and it will be irreparable, if Elliott’s appeal doesn’t stand.
There are three possible outcomes that could come out of the August 29 appeal hearing:
The first being the one that every fan of the NFL should want to see, at least it’s the outcome I’m hoping for — the 6-game suspension stands. Make no mistake — it’s sickening to think these reports are true and I don’t want to believe these events transpired; however, the NFL and the commissioner need to have gotten this decision right. Beyond the fact that the investigation went on for more than a year (so you better be accurate), Goodell has gotten so many things wrong, from the year-and-a-half-long-joke that was Deflategate to the notion that the league cares more about curbing player celebrations and what color socks they wear than protecting the health of it’s current and former players.
The second outcome would be that the suspension is completely revoked and Elliott suffers no penalty, no suspension. Elliott’s defense team has wasted no time since filing the appeal to flex their muscle and let the NFL know that they mean business. If the suspension doesn’t stand and Goodell has to admit the league’s investigation was not thorough enough or yielded inaccurate findings, he cannot survive. This was Goodell’s opportunity to enforce the domestic abuse policy to the letter of the “NFL law” — if he has to backtrack, he cannot be trusted to get anything right and shouldn’t be given another chance to.
The last option would be the most troubling, yet it gets talked about in the media and by experts like it’s a real possibility — the suspension is reduced. What does that even mean if that in fact does happen??!! Elliott didn’t do everything in the report but just some things? So there’s a degree of domestic abuse now — 2 games for a slap? Four games for a punch? Six games for multiple punches? Please, I’m not trying to be flippant or insensitive, but this is the road we’re going down? Domestic abuse is wrong on any level you want to look at it. Period. If Goodell and the league give in and reduce the 6 games, what are they telling their fans, the public, domestic abuse victims? This outcome would be much worse than if the NFL nixes the suspension altogether.
Commissioner Goodell cannot afford an outcome other than that the 6-game suspension stands. If the August 29 hearing renders any other verdict, Goodell has failed the league and the public and the fans of the NFL, and he needs to resign.
Feedback is always welcome through the website in the comments box or on my Twitter feed, @brian22goodwin.