Ezekiel Elliott complains about lingering league investigation
At a time when many wonder whether the NFL had been delaying the ongoing investigation regarding domestic violence claims against Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott to help the team, the man at the center of the probe is agitating for a final answer.
“I do want closure,” Elliott said following Sunday’s playoff loss to the Packers, via Drew Davison of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “I do. I would rather them not drag it on as long. I think if there was something to find, which there’s not, they would’ve found it by now. The police did a very thorough investigation.
“I will tell you this -- it just seems like they’re dragging their feet right now. Who knows, man? I just want it to end.”
Elliott’s lawyer made similar comments in late October; nearly three months later, the matter is still pending.
While his desire for exoneration is understandable, the absence of a decision is better than an adverse decision. And an adverse decision remains entirely possible, especially in light of the news that follow-up questions have been sent by the league to Elliott.
Regardless of whether police did a “very thorough investigation,” the NFL is operating under a much lower standard of proof. Unless/until Elliott’s alleged victim recants her claims, a he said/she said remains regarding whether he assaulted her. By seeking more information from Elliott, the league hopes either to check all boxes in order to prop up the conclusion that he did not violate the personal conduct policy or to get him to lock in to a version of the events that conflicts with something she said that allows the league to resolve the dispute in her favor and, in turn, come to the conclusion that she’s telling the truth.
That’s the core of the analysis here: Do the people at 345 Park Avenue responsible for the investigation believe Elliott, or do they believe the woman accusing him of violence? Complicating the situation is a variety of business factors, including the lingering P.R. concerns arising from the perception that the league is too soft on domestic violence (as exacerbated by the bungling of the Josh Brown case) and the very real possibility that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones will react much more strongly to a suspension of Elliott than Patriots owner Robert Kraft did when the league suspended quarterback Tom Brady.
It’s no easy spot for the league, which probably is one of the big reasons for the delay. The good news for Elliott is that, now that the team’s season has ended, the case can move toward a conclusion. The bad news is that he may not like how it concludes.