Ezekiel Elliott testified in his own defense during the Dallas Cowboys star’s appeal of the six-game suspension handed down to him earlier this offseason for violating the league’s personal conduct policy. As is becoming tradition, it appears the league screwed up their investigation into domestic violence claims against the second-year running back. The appeal hearing ended on Thursday.
Kia Roberts, director of investigations for the NFL, had her recommendation of no suspension excluded from the NFL’s final report and official suspension letter, according to the Forth Worth Star-Telegram. She was also excluded from a meeting with Roger Goodell to discuss discipline for Elliott.
Instead, Lisa Friel, the senior vice president for investigations, attended the meeting, where she recommended the six-game suspension that would eventually be handed down.
Before giving her recommendation, Roberts had conducted multiple interviews with Ezekiel’s accuser, ex-girlfriend Tiffany Thompson.
If Elliott’s appeal is unsuccessful, the exclusion of Roberts’ recommendation could be used against Goodell and the NFL in federal court.
From the Star-Telegram:
It’s those failures of the process that Elliott and the NFLPA attacked during the appeal hearing and plan to exploit if they have to go to federal court to seek a temporary injunction.
That Roberts’ recommendation didn’t make it into the report and Roberts not being involved in the decision making, even though she ran point on the fact finding with the accuser, are trap doors that could come back to haunt the NFL if this goes to federal court.
The findings of Roberts’ investigation are what had the Cowboys so confident about Elliott’s status before his suspension was handed down.
“He’s going to be there,” star wide receiver Dez Bryant said hours before the suspension. “That’s all I’m going to tell you.”
Arbitrator Harold Henderson is being pressured to hand down a decision by Monday. If the decision doesn’t come by then, Elliott will be eligible to play the New York Giants in Dallas’ season opener on September 10.
After Thompson accused Elliott in July 2016, Columbus, Ohio, police declined to press charges due to “conflicting and inconsistent information across all incidents resulting in concern regarding the sufficiency of the evidence.” One witness claimed Thompson had encouraged her to lie to police about the alleged assault, and revealed text messages that supported that assertion.