NFL, Players’ Union at Odds Over Ezekiel Elliott Situation

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The rhetoric surrounding Ezekiel Elliott‘s suspension became fairly heated on Wednesday.

It began when NFL executive vice president Joe Lockhart┬áreleased a statement condemning the league’s players association for allegedly attempting to discredit Elliott’s accuser via media channels. Not long thereafter, the union responded with a denial of any wrongdoing in the matter.

NFL, Players’ Union at Odds Over Ezekiel Elliott Situation

It comes in the wake of the league’s decision last Friday to suspend Elliott six games in response to a series of off-field incidents involving the second-year running back. The most prominent of these are from an ex-girlfriend who accused Elliott of domestic violence on multiple occasions. Elliott continues to deny all such allegations.

Late Tuesday afternoon, Elliott officially filed an appeal of the NFL’s action. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, a hearing to address the situation will take place on August 29th. Commissioner Roger Goodell will not take part in the proceedings. Instead, former executive vice president Harold Henderson will preside over the case.

Henderson, who has nine years of experience as an appeals officer, also heard the domestic violence cases involving Adrian Peterson and Greg Hardy. In Peterson’s case, Henderson denied his appeal of an indefinite suspension in 2014 due to an arrest for child abuse. But he did reduce Hardy’s suspension from ten to four games the following year.

The crux of Elliott’s case may come from an exchange contained in the NFL’s 160-page report that ultimately led to his suspension. Per Yahoo Sports, his ex-girlfriend Tiffany Thompson communicated with a friend about the possibility of blackmailing Elliott over a purported sex tape. And the Fort Worth Star-Telegram is reporting that Thompson has made threats in the past about trying to negatively impact his career.

Should Henderson uphold the entirety of Elliott’s ban, his return won’t come until week eight when the Cowboys face the Washington Redskins on the road October 29th. It means the rest of the team’s running back corps will need to step up as a result. That includes Alfred Morris and Darren McFadden who combined for just 330 rush yards in 2016. McFadden appeared in only three games late in the year due to an elbow injury.

The Cowboys return to action on Saturday with the first preseason game at home against the Indianapolis Colts. Kickoff from AT&T Stadium commences at 6:00 PM CT.

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