The NFL has a history of not enforcing appropriate punishment for their players’ behavior. Ray Rice was suspended for two games after he was caught on tape knocking out his former fiancée in an elevator, Ray Lewis was fined $250,000 but not suspended after being accused of murder; Ben Roethlisberger was suspended for four games after being accused of sexual assault for a second time in two years, and Tom Brady was suspended for four games after he allegedly deflated footballs during a game. There seems to be a bit of an imbalance here. Call me crazy, but I do not think that deflating footballs is as serious of a crime as beating, raping or murdering people.
The Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott has been caught up in a suspension saga for the better half of this year. This issue stems from an alleged instance of domestic violence against his former girlfriend. Tiffany Thompson filed a police report stating that Elliott had been violent with her over the course of five days in July 2016. There were witnesses, who did not corroborate her statements, and text messages, in which she asked her friend to lie to the police about what he did to her. Ultimately, legal charges were not brought against Elliott.
Despite Elliott getting off with no charges, the NFL has the right to suspend or punish any player that they deem to not be living up to the league’s code of conduct, “even where the conduct itself does not result in conviction of a crime.” Upon the NFL’s ruling of a six-game suspension, Elliott sued the NFL. On Sept. 8, Judge Amos Mazzant ruled in favor of injunction for Elliott against the NFL, allowing him to play this season. On Oct. 12, his six-game suspension was reinstated by a panel of three judges of the fifth Circuit Court, effective immediately.
The National Football League Player’s Association (NFLPA) has now taken to federal court in New York seeking a temporary restraining order and permanent injunction in order to get him back on the field once more. The District Court in Texas has not dismissed the case to New York yet. Therefore, The New York court may elect not to rule on the restraining order until the Fifth Circuit issues its decision. The NFL has maintained that the ban will not be reversed, and Elliott will be sitting out the next six games of the season.
Given the state of Elliott’s accuser, it is likely that something physical happened between the two of them. She was covered in bruises, and while some maintained that she had been in a bar fight a few days prior, they were not all consistent with the description of what happened in that fight. It is critical to note that the accuser had much to lose by accusing Elliott of assault, as the justice system fails women every single day – especially a woman who accused the man who led the NFL in rushing yards and made it to the Pro Bowl in his rookie season.
On top of this, Elliott allegedly inappropriately touched a woman at a St. Patrick’s Day parade in March and punched a DJ at a bar in Dallas in July. He deserves this punishment of six games. He needs to make the transition from boy to man. He needs to recognize that even if he did not assault his former girlfriend, he cannot punch people because they make him angry. You cannot lay your hands on anyone and expect to go unpunished, even if you are an NFL superstar, and it is a positive change that the league is starting to act accordingly in these situations.