Friday, November 10, 2017

Ezekiel Elliott fallout: Roger Goodell keeps on end-zone dancing all over players and they have themselves to blame

Ezekiel Elliott fallout: Roger Goodell keeps on end-zone dancing all over players and they have themselves to blame

 Link to entire story. Excerpts below

Jeffrey Kessler attorney for the NFL Players Union and Ezekiel Elliot in Manhattan Federal Court. Elliot seated left behind his attorney.  Judge Katherine Polk Failla presiding

One by one, lawsuit by lawsuit, decision by decision, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is ascending to disciplinary emperor. And in the wake of the Ezekiel Elliott case, his reign over the players is looking more untouchable than ever.
For NFL players and their union, that’s the fallout from Thursday, when a federal appeals court in New York all but guaranteed Elliott will serve his six-game suspension for violating the league’s domestic violence policy. For Goodell and his legal department, the victory comes despite a few judges along the way questioning whether the league’s punitive process is fundamentally fair. It also comes in the face of one of the NFL’s investigators stating her own suspension objections after weighing evidence in the case.
Yet even in the face of those concerns, Goodell has ridden out a litany of legal challenges and prevailed once again, bolstering a nebulous disciplinary process that may never be penetrated.

The Dallas Cowboys' Ezekiel Elliott walked away a loser in his federal case against the NFL. (AP)
The Dallas Cowboys’ Ezekiel Elliott walked away a loser in his federal case against the NFL. (AP)
As it turns out, this NFL emperor not only has clothes, he’s got a legal suit of armor.
The NFLPA gave it to him in the collective-bargaining agreement, and now its players are paying for legal upgrades, too. That’s what is happening with Elliott, whose case may end up damaging the union.
Judge Katherine Polk Failla

What is left on the docket? The Dallas Cowboys’ star running back will ride out an expedited appeal through the U.S. Court of Appeals in the 2nd Circuit that is set to hear oral arguments on Dec. 1. Unless there is a miraculous revelation, Elliott is likely to lose his appeal. Even with a new panel of judges from the 2nd Circuit, it would be a stunning development to have the court ultimately determine that his appeal arguments were more worthy of a legal win than the simple injunction he was just denied.
And if (or when) Elliott suffers an appeals loss? His legal team could get extremely ambitious and attempt to secure a moonshot appearance before the U.S. Supreme Court, something New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady didn’t bother to try in deflate-gate. Getting the highest court in the land to hear Elliott’s case would be a monumental accomplishment as it would also be far outside of the norm. The Supreme Court typically takes cases that either have broad and sweeping implications or require a resolution for conflicting decisions from lower branches of federal court. Elliott’s collective-bargaining complaint meets neither standard.
Tom Brady in court 2015
Elliott may try anyway, but when those roads meet a dead end and he is left with no other options, the ripples will have already set in for the NFLPA. And those are this: His federal case and the precedent it helps solidify will be put down right next to Brady and Adrian Peterson – all of whom took the NFL to court over the CBA, and all of whom lost.
Ultimately, that will be three extremely strong pillars holding up Goodell’s power and the NFL’s ability to dictate justice in almost any manner. Each damaging in its own way. Peterson’s case illustrated to the NFL that it has latitude to discipline players as it sees fit; Brady’s case bolstered the league’s reliance on scant (and arguably circumstantial) evidence; and Elliott’s case brought both of those realities together in one legal battle.
The potentially damaging outcome for players might be even more severe due to Elliott’s case. For the first time, it showcased that the NFL can essentially run its own in-house investigation however it wants and still be protected by federal courts – so long as the league goes through its own arbitration process, which has also been painted as rigged. If that doesn’t illustrate the remarkable power that Goodell holds, nothing does.


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