Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott and his team will attack the motive and credibility of his accuser Tiffany Thompson during the appeal of his six-game suspension by the NFL for domestic violence.
Thompson discussed using sex videos of the two together in hopes of blackmailing Elliott for money, according to a Yahoo Sports report on Wednesday.
The discussion is in a text exchange with another friend that is included in the NFL’s investigation into Elliott for multiple acts of domestic violence committed against his ex girlfriend.
The exchange doesn’t disprove that domestic violence took place.
The league says it has photo and digital evidence supporting a finding “that [Elliott] engaged in physical violence against Ms. Thompson on multiple occasions.”
It has also resulted in a public relations war with the NFL and the NFLPA.
The NFL fired back Wednesday with a statement from Joe Lockhart, the league’s executive vice president of communications.
“Over the past few day we’ve seen multiple reports of the NFLPA spreading derogatory information to the media about the victim in the Ezekiel Elliott discipline case,” Lockhart said. “It’s a common tactic to attempt to prove the innocence of the accused by discrediting the victim _ in this case Ms. Thompson _ when coming forward to report such abuse. Common or not, these tactics are shameful. Efforts to shame and blame victims are often what prevents people from coming forward to report violence and/or seek help in the first place.”
The NFLPA soon responded with a statement from it’s communications direction, George Attalah:
“The public statement issued on behalf of every NFL owner is a lie. The NFLPA catagorically denies the accusations made in this statement. We know the league office has a history of being exposed for its lack of credibility. This is another example of the NFL’s hypocrisy on display and an attempt to create a sideshow to distract from their own feelings in dealing with such serious issues. They should be ashamed for stooping to new lows.”
Elliott, the NFL Players Association and his lawyers believe the text exchange is part of the NFL and Thompson’s growing credibility problem, possibly enhancing his chances at the appeal hearing, which is set for Aug. 29.
The NFL announced Wednesday that Harold Henderson, not NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, will hear Elliott's appeal. Henderson also was the arbiter for the appeal hearing of former Cowboys defensive end Greg Hardy. He reduced Hardy's suspension for domestic violence from 10 games to four games in 2015.
Elliott’s legal advisers don’t believe the NFL gave adequate weight to underlying issues of credibility and motive for Thompson.
Other examples include a recent Star-Telegram report, detailing threats to ruin his career including one racial in nature.
Elliott also filed harassment claims against Thompson with the Frisco police department, according to an NFL Network report.
The Yahoo report included the NFL’s 160-page investigation into domestic violence accusations, detailing the following about the text exchange between Thompson and friend about potentially blackmailing Elliott.
It read: “The League’s forensic experts also recovered evidence from Ms. Thompson’s phone that she had registered an email address titled, “ezekielelliott sex vids” during the month of August, 2016. In addition, a text message with her friend [name withheld by Yahoo] was recovered that showed them talking about their need to make more money and Ms. Thompson raised the idea of selling the sex tapes she had of herself and Mr. Elliott. Her friend [name withheld] said they should blackmail Mr. Elliott with them, they’d be “millionaires”.
The NFL knew about the text exchange, but ultimately came to its findings and suspended Elliott for six games.
The league says it has photo and digital evidence supporting a finding “that [Elliott] engaged in physical violence against Ms. Thompson on multiple occasions during the week of July 16, 2016.”