NFL Stands by Suspension of Cowboys Star Ezekiel Elliott

FILE – This is a July 25, 2017, file photo showing Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott during NFL football training camp in Oxnard, Calif. Elliott’s appeal of his six-game suspension over a domestic violence incident is headed for a second day with no timeline for completion of the hearing. (AP Photo/Gus Ruelas, File)

MANHATTAN (CN) – Firing back at suspended running back Ezekiel Elliott, the NFL Management Council notes in new court papers that a disciplinary body for the league has already rejected the star Dallas Cowboy’s appeal.

The Management Council filed its complaint to enforce an arbitration award on Sept. 5. The 5-page action is accompanied by two attachments: a copy of the  NFL’s collective bargaining agreement with the players’ union, and a letter also dated Sept. 5, memorializing the failure of Elliott’s administrative appeal.

Asserting violations of the league’s personal conduct policy, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell issued a six-game suspension of Elliott last month.

The disciplinary proceedings came nearly a full year after a Columbus, Ohio, woman named Tiffany Thompson accused Elliott of domestic abuse.

Police opted not to charge Elliott after an investigation, but Goodell found that the league’s investigation cited “substantial and persuasive evidence … that [Elliott] engaged in physical violence against Ms. Thompson on multiple occasions during the week of July 16, 2016.”

The letter dismissing Elliott’s appeal noted that league investigators had also studied video footage of Elliott puling down the blouse of a woman at the 2017 Saint Patrick’s Day parade in Dallas to expose her breast.

“No discipline was imposed for that incident, but Mr. Elliott’s behavior during that event was inappropriate and disturbing, reflecting a lack of respect for women,” the Sept. 5 letter states. “When viewed together with the July incidents it suggests a pattern of poor judgment and behavior for which effective intervention is necessary for your personal and professional welfare.”

While the league wants to confirm its arbitrator’s findings in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, it faces a federal complaint in the Eastern District of Texas by the players’ union on Elliott’s behalf.

Filed on Aug. 31, the Texas complaint accuses league officials of conspiring to hide critical information that exonerates Elliott.

A press release on the union’s filing quotes “startling revelations by the NFL’s co-lead investigator that she — the only NFL investigator who personally interviewed all of the witnesses, including the accuser — did not support the decision to discipline Mr. Elliott.”

“She was prohibited from conveying her views to both Commissioner Roger Goodell and the advisory committee that was paneled to make recommendations to the commissioner,” the press released continues. 

Elliott’s suspension woes have several parallels to the NFL’s years-long effort to suspend Patriots quarterback Tom Brady over the “Deflategate” controversy.

U.S. District Judge Katherine Polk Failla will preside over the Manhattan proceedings of the Elliott case.

Estela Diaz, of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, signed the New York complaint.

The Players Association is represented in the East Texas filing by Thomas Melsheimer, an attorney with Winston Strawn in Dallas.

Representatives for the union have not responded to a request for comment.

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