Let’s hash out the obvious right off the bat: Domestic violence is not a joke. Anybody who hits their significant other is a coward that deserves nothing but the harshest punishments. Instilling fear and inflicting pain on anyone, especially a romantic partner, is wrong and there is never any sort of excuse for such a horrible action to take place.
Ezekiel Elliott, the second year starting running back for the Dallas Cowboys, is not one of these people. This matter is more frustrating than it is complicated, and worse, it isn’t even settled yet, but it is more than obvious what kind of picture Roger Goodell and the rest of the NFL are attempting to paint.
Elliott was first accused of domestic assault back in February 2016, where accuser Tiffany Thompson claimed he had physically assaulted her, telling the operator that she “got hit by my boyfriend,” detailing the assault as her being hit in her left chest, and when asked if he had done this before, she said “Yes. And he actually pushed himself into me against the wall.”
When the police spoke with Elliott, he said that a heated argument over social media led to him asking her to leave his home. When he attempted to lock himself in another room in order to remove himself from the situation, Thompson grabbed his waist, prompting Elliott to push her off of him. The police found no signs of injury, and because of this, no charges were filed. At the time, Elliott was residing in, and playing in Columbus, Ohio, for Ohio State University.
What first appeared to be an open and shut case became complicated quickly.
Thompson later interviewed with Kia Roberts, the NFL’s director of investigation, where they discussed Elliott’s incident with her. Thompson went into greater detail about her now apparent multiple incidents with Elliott, including one where Elliott apparently shoved her against the wall multiple times and pinned her, leaving bruises and thumbprints on her arms, all over an argument involving another woman that Thompson said was a “marketing agent” that was into drugs.
Elliott was drafted with the No. 4 pick in the 2016 NFL Draft on April 28, 2016, but prior to this, Thompson stated that she did not wish to press charges at first because she “did not want to ruin his career,” as Elliott was considered to be one of the most sought after incoming players in the NFL.
So it was interesting when Thompson then reported five instances of violence from July 17 to July 22 during the same year. We’ll go through the order together:
1) During the late evening on April 17 in Florida, in which she claimed Elliott “dragged me out of the bed. And then he threw me up against the door in his bedroom. Then he placed his right hand around my neck and started choking me.”
Afterwards, she claimed he tried to strike her after the choking ended, but her blocking the attack resulted in a bruise to her right forearm. When everything had subsided, she said that they went to bed, but Elliott would not let her leave, including the next day, where they apparently spent the whole day together.
One witness, when asked by police if anything had happened, signed an affidavit saying that he had stayed at the apartment with Elliott and Thomspon until 3:30 a.m. and did not witness a fight, nor see any evidence of injury, bruising, or scrapes on her.
2) On April 18, she said in the police report that they had each gone out separately Sunday night, and when Elliott arrived at this apartment before she did, he choked her, leaving a bruise on her neck.
However, when she spoke with the prosecutor’s office, she told the intake counselor that when she returned from going on, Elliott not only threatened to smash her car window and headlights, he tried to twist her left arm, only letting go when his friend told him to stop, which resulted in a bruise. Thompson also claimed to have tried to leave later that evening, but could not since no friends were available to pick her up.
Two witnesses tell very different stories to this, one a friend of Elliott’s, another, a coworker of Thompson’s. Elliott’s friend said that he had stayed overnight with them and did not witness an altercation at all. Thompson’s coworker confirmed she had hung out with her at the pool early the next day of the incident and did not see any marks on her, even describing her outfit was “the equivalent of a bikini.”
3) On April 19, Thompson told police that Elliott threw her against a wall at his apartment after she returned from a night out and told her she was “lucky that he has not killed her yet,” and choked her again before smacking her in the face and calling her his “puppy dog.”
When she gave her report to the prosecutor’s office, she never mentioned being choked, thrown against the wall, or Elliott saying she was “lucky he has not killed her yet,” but that after an argument, he said that “You’re in my house, you’re my puppy dog,” then telling her to “sit the fuck down” when she tried to leave. He then allegedly went throw her on to the bed, took her phone and car keys away, then “aggressively poked her cheek,” when she tried to avoid looking at him. He also smacked her in the face.
A statement from one of Elliott’s friends read that he had gone to his apartment alone at 3:15 a.m. and Thompson was waiting there. He said she had stayed over and never once mentioned any fights or injuries, and Elliott himself only returned home between 8 p.m. and 9 a.m. on Tuesday.
4) On the April 21, she told police that when her and Elliott arrived at his apartment after a night out, he “lost it” when she asked him a question, resulting in her being thrown against a wall and grabbed by the throat. She claimed he had also yanked her by the left wrist, then dragged her across the floor, giving her a rug burn on her right knee.
When she spoke with the intake counselor at the prosecutor’s office, she said Elliott threw her against a wall and she had hit her head, saying she felt dizzy, and was dragged to Elliott’s bedroom. She then claimed to have called the guy she had been seeing when she and Elliott were broken up, but the man did not answer, and after brought up Elliott’s past cheating.
After which, he grabs her neck, pins her to the floor, and begins shaking her, before throwing her on to the bed and saying “I’m not dealing with your dumb ass anymore,” and finishing with “Try to leave and see what happens.”
Two witnesses told very different tales. A friend of Elliott said her and Elliott were at a bar from midnight until 2am on Thursday. He said Elliott’s accuser met them there, and the three of them went back to Elliott’s apartment together, also claiming that Thompson was “too intoxicated to drive” and she stayed over. He signed an affidavit stating that he slept across the hall and never heard or saw anything violent occur (page 59).
Another Ohio State student, not a friend of Elliott, but somebody who knew who he was, signed a sworn statement that said Elliott introduced him to Thompson late Wednesday night. The student did not observe any bruising on Elliott’s accuser and took photos with Elliott, the woman, and a few of the former’s friends early Thursday morning. These photos were attached to his affidavit (page 65).
5) The afternoon of April 21 is when Thompson began suggesting going to the police. After text messages emerged showing the two arguing over why Thompson wasn’t going to celebrate Elliott’s birthday with him, Thompson then claimed Elliott FaceTimed with her.
“He told me I can get the police involved all I want. That he’s going to win, and no one will believe me.”
Elliott’s story is different, though it is inconsistent with text messages that were obtained, he at one point told her he did not want her at his apartment, nor did he want her coming out with him on his 21st birthday, to which, according to documents obtained, she said “Ok this is what you want? Ok then, I’m going to ruin your life. You will see. If I was you, I wouldn’t go out tonight.”
Further text messages between the two show Thompson telling Elliott “You better be smart. And not be a dumb man. Bitch, keep messing with the wrong bitch.”
After not being allowed into the after party, Thompson was heard yelling and screaming in front of dozens of witnesses “Your career is over!” and then proceeded to call the police.
“You are a black male athlete. I’m a white girl. They are not going to believe you.”
A bone chilling statement confirmed by Elliott. NFL lead investigator Lisa Friel noted that per evidence, she was unable to give a clear endorsement of Thompson’s credibility because of her consistent misleading of investigators from both the police and the prosecutor’s office.
But that’s not even the best part.
As most know by this point, the NFL introduced a six game suspension on Elliott for his apparent domestic assault. Yes, the one that prosecutors and police found no evidence whatsoever for made headlines as many people’s heads began to spin in shock and disbelief.
More frustrating to the point was when an affidavit by a woman named Ayrin Mason emerged from back in July of 2016 when Elliott was officially notified he would be under investigation. Mason not only claimed she was with Thompson during the early morning hours of July 22, 2016, she also provided a number of text message screenshots detailing how Thompson planned to lie to the police.
When Elliott finally appealed his suspension, things looked bleak for the young superstar when his suspension was shot down, as a mark on his record for this type of offense could possibly mean an indefinite suspension from the league, despite all of the evidence showing otherwise. That was, until a federal judge in Texas took notice of the issue and ultimately ruled against the NFL, granting Elliott a temporary restraining order that bars the league from enacting its six-game sentence until the case can be further reviewed, something NFL arbiter Harold Henderson found silly and “unnecessary” to do so when he ultimately sided with the league’s decision.
Judge Amos Mazzant blatantly accused the NFL of violating its Collective Bargaining Agreement, specifically taking issue with Henderson.
Judge Mazzant: “The NFL’s breach of the CBA is only compounded by Henderson’s breach of the CBA” pic.twitter.com/evnUrm6qiZ
— Daniel Wallach (@WALLACHLEGAL) September 8, 2017
“The NFL’s breach of the CBA is only compounded by Henderson’s breach of the CBA. Specifically, Henderson denied access to certain procedural requirements, which were necessary to be able to present all relevant evidence at the hearing. These procedural requests, that Henderson denied are: (1) access investigators’ notes; (2) cross-examine Thompson; and (3) question Commissioner Goodell. Since Henderson barred access to the investigators’ notes, Thompson’s cross-examination, and the examination of Commissioner Goodell, and each was of utmost importance and extremely relevant to the hearing, Henderson breached the CBA.”
The NFL has since filed emergency motion in the case, attempting to make up for its loss in the courtroom by taking its case to the appellate court, leading with the citation of “irreparable harm” being done to the league if Elliott is permitted to continually play.
This is the same league, under the same commissioner, that allowed Michael Vick to return to the league after he had pleaded guilty and served a nearly two year federal prison sentence for his involvement in a dog fighting ring. Yes, that one.
Granted many things have changed since 2009, they seem to have regressed into a near instant sense of “guilty until proven innocent,” and even with evidence to support you, the league will decide in its own mind if you are right or wrong. Its sick obsession with keeping Elliott from playing and hostility towards those who know of the fickleness of the investigators is more telling on its own sense of “social justice,” though ‘justice’ should be used very, very loosely. You are guilty, even when you are innocent, and their word is all that they need. The league’s inability to admit it was wrong is telling of the direction of our society, especially since a man’s future hangs in the balance over something cleared long ago.
If people thought the Patriots organization had the angriest fans after DeflateGate, all they have to do is wait and watch the unfolding events.
One thing is for sure, though: Elliott, the Jones family, and the entire Dallas Cowboys organization is ready for a war with its very host.