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NFLPA calling in top “attack dog” for fight over Ezekiel Elliott suspension

The players’ union is bringing back the lawyer who got Tom Brady’s suspension delayed for a year.

NFL And Players Resume Mediation
Jeffrey Kessler has a long history with the NFL.
Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

While the main focus of the Dallas Cowboys and their fans has rightly been on the flooding in Houston and the now official move of the final preseason game with the Texans to AT&T Stadium, there is also some other news outside of the Metroplex that affects the team: Ezekiel Elliott’s appeal hearing for his six-game suspension. As reported by Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports, there has been a new development signalling that the NFLPA is preparing to go all-out in fighting things if the appeal does not go in Elliott’s favor.

Robinson’s report starts with the perception that the NFL is determined for the suspension to be upheld fully, and has taken steps to insure that.

In some ways, Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott lost the appeal of his six-game domestic violence suspension before it ever was slated to begin. But the defeat is believed to have opened the door for Elliott to take his fight to a federal court, potentially delaying his suspension into the 2018 offseason.

He contends, and the NFLPA apparently concurs, that the refusal to appoint a different hearing officer than Harold Henderson, as was requested and denied, plus the refusal to call for Elliott’s accuser to be available during the appeal or to allow the Elliott team to see the notes and transcripts of the six interviews with the accuser, makes it extremely difficult for them to challenge the validity of the accusations.

But those moves by the NFL are also seen as creating the path for a further legal challenge past the appeal.

The NFLPA and Elliott’s defense team have been looking for a potential procedural violation to mount a challenge in federal court. Sources have told Yahoo Sports that they believe they have it, via some of the same procedural collective-bargaining arguments that opened the door for the union and quarterback Tom Brady to sue the NFL in deflate-gate. The sources declined to make the exact violations clear, but told Yahoo Sports that it involves all three of the aforementioned developments: naming Henderson as a partial arbitrator; failing to require [the accuser] to appear for cross-examination; and refusing to produce investigative material gathered when the NFL interviewed [the accuser] on multiple occasions.

Further, the NFLPA has now brought in a lawyer who has a long record of going up against the league over the CBA and other legal issues.

The sources also told Yahoo Sports another significant development for Elliott: The NFLPA has once again called upon its most powerful outside attack dog, attorney Jeffrey Kessler. The sources said Kessler will be a significant part of Elliott’s appeal and the likely federal case filing that will occur next. The same Kessler who has waged war with the NFL on multiple high-profile occasions, including representing Brady in deflate-gate and the last antitrust case filed against the league. His involvement is key, largely because he is one of the most versed attorneys in the United States when it comes to the NFL and attacking it on the collective-bargaining front.

If nothing else, this is a clear indication that the fight over Elliott’s suspension is likely to continue.

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