Ezekiel Elliot Throws Red Flag Alleging Unfair Arbitration Hearing

Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliot and the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) filed a lawsuit and a temporary injunction in federal court on August 31, 2017 seeking to vacate an arbitration award before it is announced, after a three-day arbitration hearing with arbitrator Harold Henderson. The suit was filed in the face of anticipation that Henderson will rule in favor of the NFL rather than Elliot and uphold Elliot’s six-game suspension.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell had imposed the six-game suspension on August 11 after a year-long investigation of allegations of domestic violence, determining that Elliot engaged in conduct that violated NFL personal conduct policy. The NFL’s director of investigations, Kia Roberts had interviewed Elliot’s former girlfriend, Tiffany Thompson, who accused Elliot of domestic violence, and then recommended to the NFL that Elliot not be suspended because Thompson was not credible. However, Roberts was not on the panel that decided Elliot’s punishments, nor were her recommendations included in the NFL’s final report.

Elliot and the NFLPA alleged that the arbitration process used to appeal the suspension was a “league orchestrated conspiracy” and “one of the most fundamentally unfair arbitral processes conceivable.” Elliot’s Petition states that NFL senior executives hid critical information which would have completely exonerated Elliot, and that Elliot was denied the opportunity to cross-examine his accuser. The arbitrator had determined the accuser’s testimony was not essential to Elliot’s defense. The Petition states that “Elliot and the Cowboys will suffer immediate irreparable harm once the suspension goes into effect, as Elliot, star running back for the Cowboys must begin practicing for the team’s opening game on Tuesday, September 5.”  If the arbitrator does not issue an award by 3:00 p.m. on September 5th, the NFL may not be able to stop Elliot from playing during Week 1 of the season.

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