When it comes to the suspension of Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott, to say the NFL and NFL Players Association have taken firm stances seems like an understatement:
New NFL statement pic.twitter.com/KJ64RDHVB2
— Brian McCarthy (@NFLprguy) August 16, 2017
Let’s walk it back while we have a moment.
The NFL suspended Elliott six games for being in violation of the league’s personal conduct code. The suspension stems from allegations of domestic violence from Elliott’s ex-girlfriend. While the case never went to court, the NFL’s personal conduct policy states a player can still be disciplined if credible evidence shows the player has violated the policy, even if criminal charges aren’t filed (there’s a similar rule in MLB, so that’s fairly common). This is the provision under which Elliott was served a suspension.
For what it’s worth, the NFL’s letter notifying Elliott of his suspension (via Pro Football Talk) said the league found “substantial and persuasive” evidence of Elliott’s violence toward his ex-girlfriend that led to his suspension for violating the personal conduct policy.
It appears as though this report from Charles Robinson of Yahoo! Sports, who has taken a look at the NFL’s report on Elliott’s domestic violence allegations, helped the NFL launch the first salvo. Robinson’s report features text messages from Elliott’s accuser to a friend in which the idea of selling sex videos as a way of blackmailing Elliott. The Fort Worth Star Telegram’s Clarence E. Hill Jr. writes the messages will be used during the appeal process.
The NFLPA responded to the league’s statement with this, which is currently its pinned tweet:
The public statement issued on behalf of every NFL owner is a lie. The NFLPA categorically denies the accusations made in this statement. pic.twitter.com/OFOGQY91Ai
— NFLPA (@NFLPA) August 16, 2017
And there was also this, which has since been deleted:
This was not a great look, NFLPA. Just remember, victims are watching. pic.twitter.com/43zSfGAMM8
— Lindsay Gibbs (@linzsports) August 16, 2017
Yikes. The back-and-forth between the NFL and NFLPA might have more to do with how things were handled in previous suspension cases, as well as posturing for the future, and less to do with the specifics of Elliott’s case. Still, the Elliott suspension, appeal, and Twitter spat between the two entities is not to be taken lightly.