Lawyers for Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott continue to accuse the NFL of conspiring to hide and suppress evidence in their 13-month investigation of him for violating the personal conduct policy, resulting in a six-game suspension.
Jeffrey Kessler, a lawyer for the National Football League Players Association representing Elliott, called out Lisa Friel, the NFL’s senior vice president for investigations, numerous times before Judge Amos Mazzant in the U.S. District Court of Eastern Texas in a hearing for a temporary restraining order against the suspension Tuesday evening.
Kessler said Friel “misrepresented the truth” before a four-person expert panel that helped advise NFL commissioner Roger Goodell in his decision to suspend Elliott for allegedly assaulting his former girlfriend Tiffany Thompson.
He also said Friel changed her testimony “five or six times” during cross examination at the appeals hearing last week.
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Mazzant spent Labor Day weekend reading up on the case and the testimony. His sole focus is decide whether the process was fair. A ruling isn’t expected until Friday.
Friel’s actions are important to Elliott’s case and the NFLPA because she is considered to be the one who left lead investigator Kia Roberts out of the process.
Roberts is only person from the NFL office who interviewed all 26 witnesses in the case, including six times with Thompson. Roberts recommended that Elliott should receive no discipline.
Yet, Roberts’ recommendation and conclusions were not part of the 160-page Elliott report she co-authored, she was not present when it was presented to the panel of experts and she was not part of the meeting with Goodell where the disciplined was determined.
NFL lawyer Daniel Nash said it was not Roberts’ decision to make so her presence wasn’t necessary.
Friel was at all those meetings and, per the NFL, she was there to represent Roberts’ findings.
But the NFLPA countered that Friel could not have offered a complete rendition of Roberts investigation when she recommended a six-game suspension and Roberts didn’t think there was enough credible evidence to discipline Elliott.
The NFL maintains Roberts' concerns about Thompson's credibility were presented to Goodell.
Kessler believes they should have the right to question the Goodell about what he knew about Roberts’ conclusions as well as review Roberts investigative notes.
Both requests were denied by NFL arbitrator Harold Henderson at the appeals hearing last well as well as a request to interview Thompson. Henderson also upheld the six-game suspension Tuesday following last week’s hearing in New York.