Cowboy's running back Ezekiel Elliott has an arbitration hearing this week where he is hoping to overturn his current six game suspension. The suspension, which was imposed earlier this month, stemmed from a domestic violence incident that occurred last year.
According to the Washington Post, the alleged victim reported to Columbus, Ohio police that Elliot had abused her several times in a week and had “bruises on one shoulder and on both forearms and wrists.” However, Elliott denied he had hurt the victim, stating that she “had been in bar fight with another woman.” Police were not able to find anyone who witnessed Elliott committing an assault, but they did find three people who had seen the victim fighting another woman that night. Other people stated that they had heard Elliott's accuser say, “she was going to ‘call the cops to ruin his career.'” In addition, one woman claimed that Elliott's accuser had asked her to lie about witnessing an assault. Subsequently, no charges were filed against Elliott by the police. In addition, the alleged victim also claimed another incident occurred in South Florida, but no charges were pressed in that jurisdiction either.
While Elliott may not be facing criminal charges, he still must deal with the consequences imposed by the NFL. He was suspended “for violating the league's personal conduct policy.” The arbitration hearing that took place on August 29th was Elliott's first chance to appeal his suspension. According to CBS, “[t]he NFL Players Association filed an appeal on Elliott's behalf on Aug. 15 ‘to ensure that the NFL is held to its obligation of adhering to principles of industrial due process under the collective bargaining agreement.'”
According to the Washington Post, Elliott was not optimistic that he would prevail at the hearing. Instead, “attorneys for the Cowboys running back are hopeful that they can use aspects of the expected setback to pursue the case in federal court.” Among the reasons that Elliott and his attorneys expect to lose at arbitration are that the arbitrator is a former executive for the league, who was appointed by the NFL Commissioner. They contended that the arbitrator “lacks objectivity” but their request was denied. In addition, the arbitrator has already made two rulings, one that denied Elliott's request to have his accuser testify and another that barred "the introduction of notes and material investigators gathered while interviewing Thompson.”
If Elliott does not succeed in arbitration, the Post reports that they could potentially use Henderson's “appointment and some of his decisions as evidence that the NFL's process in punishing the running back was flawed.” Elliott's attorneys have also reportedly “been looking for a procedural violation to mount a challenge in federal court.” The arbitrator is not expected to issue his decision before the official start of the season on September 2nd, according to CBS. However, it is possible he could before the Cowboy's first game on the 10th. In addition, Elliott could seek an injunction to delay his suspension so he could play while the proceedings are ongoing.
According to the Washington Post, the NFL has been cracking down on players accused of domestic violence since it was “[s]harply criticized by women's groups and others for its handling of the Ray Rice case.” The League has pledged to investigate claims of abuse and hold “abusers accountable regardless of how the criminal justice system handles a case.”