NFL suspended Dallas Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott for six games in the regular season over allegations of domestic violence. Ezekiel Elliott will try to reduce the suspension if that is possible. Even though it will be difficult, he will be backed up by one of the most skilled attorneys Jeffrey Kessler.
Kessler represented Tom Brady in the infamous Deflategate saga, and according to Yahoo Sports, Kessler plays “a significant part” in Elliott’s camp. This man succeeded in having Brady’s four-game suspension overturned, but later on, it was reinstated. In the meantime, Elliott pleaded for an independent arbiter, but the NFL commissioner Roger Goodell made a decision to appoint Harold Henderson, a former league executive, to hear the case.
Becker and Poliakoff sports attorney Daniel Wallach pointed out that the NFL arbitration process differs from the typical courtroom appeal and that would be an issue for Elliott. He said: “In the judicial form, appeals are somewhat confined factually. But in the NFL’s appeals procedure in connection with player discipline … [it] is a hybrid of an appeal/evidentiary hearing.”
The NFL procedure doesn’t include many of the niceties which the courtroom evidence rules afford. One of the rules is upholding Sixth and Seventh Amendment rights, including the right of the accused to confront his accuser. The reason for this is because NFL doesn’t have enough power to compel any outside witness to appear for testimony nor to provide equal access to the evidence. Elliott requested to have Tiffany Thompson, his accuser, there with him to take part in cross-examination, but Henderson has already refused that.
According to Wallach, the lack of authority “underscores a systemic flaw in the NFL’s arbitration process when it attempts to intrude into the area of what is normally a law enforcement or judicial prerogative.” Also, Elliott and his team will fight an uphill battle from the beginning. Wallach added: “In some ways, Elliott attorneys are basically going to be trying this case with one hand tied behind their back without the accuser in court and without the notes of the NFL’s interview with [the accuser]. In most courtroom trials, you want to create a level playing field, in that both sides have equal access to the evidence, but in the NFL, there is no such thing.”
This could be the reason why Wallack believes that “everybody knows the writing is on the wall here.” Elliott’s appeal would eventually end up in court because the winner of the process “is going to run to federal court to confirm the arbitration.” Zeke is encouraged by the fact that the Deflategate ruling was upheld in 2016, which, according to Wallach “reaffirmed that the arbitrators have the power to make evidentiary rulings, as well as to determine facts, and the court will not second- guess the arbitrators.”
Wallach believes that Elliott is in a better position than Brady was because he denied all the evidence laid out before him. “That evidence is so material and important to the arbitration that you’re basically keeping the most important counter-evidence from him,” Wallach said. “And that could be the basis on which a federal court intervenes and vacates the arbitration.”
Despite that, Wallach said that he would be “stunned to see this vacated. Everybody foresees either the entire suspension being upheld or, at best for Elliott, a reduction to a four-game suspension.”
We will keep track of Elliott’s case and keep you informed so follow us for more details. Before we conclude, we just want to mention that this could be a major issue for the Cowboys. Their offense is stacked, but we all know that Dallas’ weakness in the defense. Elliott’s running game can extend the time Dallas spends attacking, giving defense more time to rest. Will Elliott manage to reduce the suspension?