NFL lead investigator Kia Roberts recommended no suspension for Ezekiel Elliott, according to Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Roberts testified to that during an appeals hearing that lasted 25 hours over three days this week.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones’ repeated declaration that the league would not suspend Elliott was based on his knowledge of Roberts’ recommendation backed by assurance from a top NFL executive of no suspension, per Hill. Jones reportedly was “furious” when the league announced the six-game suspension for violating the personal conduct policy.
Hill also reports Roberts’ recommendation never made it into the NFL’s final report or the official Aug. 11 suspension letter. The league cited findings of three instances of domestic violence by Elliott against ex-girlfriend Tiffany Thompson based on the victim’s testimony and photographic evidence.
In addition, Roberts did not attend the meeting with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to discuss discipline for Elliott, per Hill, as she was barred from it by Lisa Friel, the senior vice president for investigations.
Hill’s source indicated that if arbiter Harold Henderson returns a ruling unacceptable to Elliott, the case will head to federal court. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported earlier Thursday that Henderson is under pressure to make a decision by Monday, with a reduction likely.