News: In the News

The NFL's Road to Ezekiel Elliott's Suspension Began in 2007


Neil Morris Quoted in the Dallas Observer

by Stephen Young, The Dallas Observer

While the length of Ezekiel Elliott's suspension might have come as a surprise, the fact that it came wasn't a shock. Since being picked fourth overall by the Dallas Cowboys in the 2016 NFL draft, Elliott has made a series of poor decisions, seemingly daring NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to do something about the Ohio State product's behavior. Goodell took Elliott up on his challenge Friday, suspending the running back for the first six games of the 2017 season.

Over the weekend, reaction to the suspension has included Jerry Jones' reported rage, glowing responses from domestic violence advocacy groups and Elliott's apology for the "distraction and disruption" he's caused during the Cowboys' training camp. Elliott's attorneys vowed to appeal the suspension Friday, promising a "slew" of new evidence in their attempt to overturn or reduce the suspension.


8. Don't expect Elliott's appeal to go like Hardy's — or Brady's.
According to Neil Morris, a labor and employment attorney with Offit Kurman, NFL players face unique circumstances when appealing disciplinary actions by their employer. Unlike most unionized workplaces, where a disciplinary dispute would be heard by an independent arbiter, NFL appeals are heard by the same person (or a representative of the person) who handed out the decision that led to the appeal.

"The odds [of a successful appeal] are very bad for Elliott because Goodell imposed the suspension," Morris tells the Observer. "Why is he going to change his mind on appeal?"

While Elliott could challenge the league's final decision in court, he would face an uphill climb because the union opted into the league disciplinary system when it signed the current collective bargaining agreement, which doesn't expire until 2020. Brady made a case that the agreement, as it existed, had not been applied fairly, and even that decision was ultimately rejected. So far, Elliott's lawyers have challenged the veracity of the evidence the NFL cited in its decision, not the way the punishment was determined once league investigators found Thompson to be credible.

In Hardy's case, Goodell applied a new policy retroactively. Elliott's has been punished to the letter of NFL law.

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Neil A. Morris is Chair of the firm's Philadelphia Labor and Employment Group. He has passionately represented employers for the last 30 years. He concentrates in the areas of labor and employment, municipal labor law, employment discrimination, defamation defense, commercial litigation, and business litigation. He has served as Special/Labor Counsel for more than 35 Pennsylvania Townships and Boroughs, the County of Bucks and many private employers. He is often brought into municipalities to handle "crisis" situations involving employees and/or management.





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