NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell yesterday amplified the angst the Dallas Cowboys are feeling following Sunday's loss by refusing to put a timetable on the conclusion of the league's investigation into running back Ezekiel Elliott.
Goodell's stance comes despite the fact that the law enforcement agencies investigating Elliott, one in Florida and one in Ohio, have already closed the books on domestic violence accusations made by Elliott's ex-girlfriend, Tiffany Thompson. While he is no longer in legal trouble, the NFL's disciplinary policy still allows Goodell to suspend or fine Elliott depending on the results of the league's independent investigation into the matter.
"Well the best way to be fair to a player is to be thorough and to take your time and get it right. So, that is what we're working on. We have professionals that are working on this," Goodell told reporters after Wednesday's NFL owners meeting at Las Colinas' Four Seasons Resort. "We're not putting a timetable on it. We want to make sure they get it right, they get all the facts. And when they reach to a conclusion, we'll all know about it."
In February, cops in Florida refused to arrest Elliott after Thompson claimed he grabbed and shoved her because Thompson hadn't suffered any visible injuries and there were no independent witnesses. In Ohio in July, cops declined to arrest or prosecute Elliott because of conflicting statements from witnesses.
In the Ohio case, evidence released by the Columbus City Attorney showed Thompson asking friends to lie for her to the police. One witness present in the parking lot from which Thompson called 911 also told police that Thompson screamed at Elliott that she would "ruin his life."
Neil A. Morris, the head of the labor division at Offit Kurman, a Philadelphia law firm, told the Observer last month that Elliott is paying the price for the league's botched investigation of former New York Giants kicker Josh Brown, who was initially suspended for just one game before police documents depicting a graphic, lengthy history of violence against his wife were made public.
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"The problem for Elliott is that, unfortunately, after what happened in the Brown case with Giants, where the NFL had to backtrack and issue a severe punishment, the timing is bad," Morris says. "When someone makes an abuse allegation, the person being accused has rights, too, and in this particular case it seems like it's his rights that are being violated."