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Cowboys News: Judge blasts NFL, Roger Goodell's process as “fundamentally unfair”

Latest Cowboys headlines: Ezekiel Elliott likely to play full 2017 NFL season; Jaylon Smith to start at MLB, more

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Texas judge grants Elliott preliminary injunction - Clarence Hill, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Federal judge Amos Mazzant issued a harsh rebuke to the NFL and its process.

In making his ruling, Mazzant stated “that the question of what happened between Elliott and Thompson in July 2016 is not before the Court.”

“The question before the Court is merely whether Elliott received a fundamentally fair hearing before the arbitrator,” Mazzant wrote. “The answer is he did not. The Court finds, based upon the injunction standard, that Elliott was denied a fundamentally fair hearing by Henderson’s refusal to allow Thompson and Goodell to testify at the arbitration hearing.”

Ezekiel Elliott receives injunction from federal court delaying 6-game suspension - Jeanna Thomas, SBNation.com
Judge Mazzant slams the "fundamental unfairness" of the NFL process.

The NFL’s director of investigations, Kia Roberts, testified during Elliott’s appeal that she did not recommend a suspension for Elliott. Roberts interviewed Elliott’s accuser several times and did not find her to be credible. Roberts’ recommendation was not passed on to any of the independent advisors who were appointed to review the evidence, and it was withheld from Roger Goodell, who made the decision to suspend Elliott.

That was a key issue for Mazzant, who said that withholding the information resulted in an unfair process:

“The NFL’s actions demonstrate that from the very beginning of the decision-making process, a cloud of fundamental unfairness followed Elliott. Unfortunately, this cloud followed Elliott into the arbitration proceedings. The arbitration record shows that the NFL, at the very least, turned a blind eye to Roberts’s dissenting opinion. This entire set of circumstances was put in front of Henderson.”

Ezekiel Elliott news: How it's further exposing Roger Goodell - Michael Rosenberg, SI.com
It appears Roger Goodell will be portrayed as the loser in yet another disciplinary case.

Goodell may ultimately win this war, as he did with Tom Brady, but it will come at a severe cost, as it did with Brady. The Elliott ruling just reinforces the public perception of Goodell and his scattershot justice system. He always looks like he would give prison time for a parking ticket, then forget to lock the cell.

Goodell has lost his credibility with a lot of fans, and worse, with players. It is at the point where he can’t win: suspensions and non-suspensions are both viewed suspiciously. Everybody would be better off if Goodell conceded some of his disciplinary power. People stopped trusting him with it a long time ago.

Cowboys' Ezekiel Elliott granted restraining order, suspension on hold - Linday Jones, USA Today
The question decided by the court was not about Elliott's guilt or innocence, but whether the arbitration process was fair. It was not.

Judge Amos Mazzant called the arbitration process for Elliott "fundamentally unfair" and wrote in his ruling that both the NFL and arbitrator Harold Henderson violated the collective bargaining agreement by not meeting "procedural requirements" for the appeals hearing, including a denial of a request by Elliott’s representatives to review investigators’ notes and the ability to cross-examine commissioner Roger Goodell and the woman who accused Elliott of domestic violence.

"The NFL’s actions demonstrate that from the very beginning of the decision-making process, a cloud of fundamental unfairness followed Elliott. Unfortunately, this cloud followed Elliott into the arbitration proceedings," Mazzant wrote.

The reasons for Ezekiel Elliott’s victory – Mike Florio, ProFootballTalk
Florio breaks down the 22-page ruling from Judge Amos L. Mazzant III, and summarizes succinctly.

These factors all led to a very strong conclusion from Judge Mazzant regarding Elliott’s likelihood of winning the case when a final ruling is issued:

“The circumstances of this case are unmatched by any case this Court has seen. . . . Fundamental unfairness infected this case from the beginning, eventually killing any possibility that justice would be served.”

It is, without question, a home run for Elliott and the NFLPA. A federal judge has concluded, as Elliott alleged and many agreed, that the process lacks basic fairness to the player. While many like to claim that the NFLPA agreed to these procedures, the union did not agree to the implementation of these procedures in an unfair way. That’s why the availability of the court system becomes critical to the ultimate effort to secure for the players a degree of fairness that the league is clearly not committed to providing.

Why Roger Goodell will win this fight vs. Ezekiel Elliott — no matter how long it drags out - Kevin Sherrington, SportsDay
Sherrington points out that regardless of Elliott's win in court, this case will ultimately only end one way.

Ultimately, though, no matter how many rounds this goes, the commissioner will win. Because it's his game.

What the judge ruled Friday was about procedure, not Elliott's guilt or innocence. No doubt the league will make several concessions after screwing up the first time around.

But, in the end, Zeke's judge will be the same as last time.

Let me ask: Do you really think Goodell is going to change his mind?

Here's betting Zeke serves a suspension at some point, probably next year. In his best-case scenario, it's reduced to four games.


Ezekiel Elliott likely to play full 2017 NFL season after judge grants injunction - Sean Wagner, CBSSports.com
The injunction means the NFL can't enforce the six-game suspension for now, and that Elliott will likely be able to play the entire season.

But that doesn't mean Elliott is officially freed from his suspension. It just means he'll be able to play while the matter gets sorted out in court. Eventually, Elliott could be forced to serve his suspension. But this is still a huge victory for Elliott and the Cowboys, because Elliott will likely be eligible for the entire season.

Cowboys' chances improve with Ezekiel Elliott likely to play all 2017 - Todd Archer, ESPN
The injunction will get Ezekiel Elliott on the field for the Cowboys, where his presence helps not only the offense but the defense, too.

In the here-and-now world that is the NFL, the Cowboys' chances of contending in 2017 improved dramatically.

While confident they could have run the ball effectively enough in his absence, Elliott brings a different gear to the Cowboys' running game. He had seven 100-yard games, four more with better than 90 yards and another three with at least 80 yards last season. He had 48 carries for at least 10 yards in 15 regular-season games. He had 14 carries of 20 yards or more in those 15 games.

Elliott helps Prescott. Because defenses are forced to reckon with Elliott on every play, that opens up passing lanes to Dez Bryant, Jason Witten and Cole Beasley.

Elliott helps the defense, which was a big reason the Cowboys selected him with the fourth overall pick in 2016. The better the Cowboys run the ball, the more they control the clock. The more they control the tempo of the game, the less the defense plays. The less the defense plays, the less it will be exposed.


Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis trying to play catch up for Week 1 - Todd Archer, ESPN
Jourdan Lewis is unlikely to play Sunday, but Chidobe Awuzie could see extended playing time, Archer writes.

Awuzie could play a big role Sunday, especially with Giants rookie tight end Evan Engram expected to play a big role. As a rookie defensive back, Awuzie almost expects veteran quarterback Eli Manning to come his way.

“If he does, he’s going to have some trouble,” Awuzie said. “That’s how I approach it. He’s a great quarterback. They have great receivers, great weapons, but I’m a confident dude and I’ve been visualizing making plays on him and making plays on everybody. And when that time comes, I’m not going to be surprised. I’m going to be ready.”

Dez Bryant remains essential to Cowboys, and there's reason to expect his return to dominant form - David Moore, SportsDay
With Dez Bryant at full health, the Cowboys are optimistic about what he'll bring to the team this year.

Bryant is healthy heading into this season. It shows.

"To me, this is the best Dez has been," Prescott said. "Someone asked me the other day who I thought the most improved player is, and I said Dez, just on the way he's been taking care of his body, his effort, his attitude, everything from last year to this year. It's just exciting to throw him the ball and watch what he can do after the catch this year.

"He's been healthy all offseason so that chemistry has grown. He's been a healthy Dez, a guy whose ears are wide open, wanting to know what I'm thinking. I want to know what he's thinking. It's just been a back and forth, just talking and doing it out there on the field.

"It's only growing."

Jaylon Smith is likely to start Sunday's gameat MLB - Todd Archer, ESPN
Looks like Smith will be the starting MLB on Sunday, and he has no bigger fan than the linebacker next to him, Sean Lee.

"I'm extremely comfortable with him," Lee said. "The type of work he's put in to come back, what he's looked like in the OTAs, what he's looked like in training camp, he's ready to play."