The National Football League Players Association filed a temporary restraining order in Texas on Thursday, "calling for the courts to block any suspension upheld by NFL arbitrator Harold Henderson," according to ESPN.com's Adam Schefter.
In the petition, which was shared by Schefter, the NFLPA requested the state vacate any ruling Henderson makes regarding Ezekiel Elliott's six-game suspension appeal because it claims "the NFL and its unilaterally appointed arbitrator" are engaged in a "league-orchestrated conspiracy" to "hide critical information—which would completely exonerate Elliott."
On Friday, he NFLPA released a statement made available to Bleacher Report by Jill Martin of CNN:
On Thursday night, the NFLPA filed a petition in federal court in the Eastern District of Texas seeking to vacate any discipline that may be imposed on Ezekiel Elliott by the NFL hearing officer (and former NFL lawyer), Harold Henderson.
This decision comes as a result of the startling revelations by the NFL's co-lead investigator that she -- the only NFL investigator who personally interviewed all of the witnesses, including the accuser -- did not support the decision to discipline Mr. Elliott. She was prohibited from conveying her views to both Commissioner Roger Goodell and the advisory committee that was paneled to make recommendations to the Commissioner.
The deliberate exclusion of her recommendations and findings constitutes a failure to follow the NFL’s own Personal Conduct Policy, which the League unilaterally imposed and refused to collectively bargain.
Arbitrary decision-making and internal inconsistencies continue to plague the most senior level of management of the League. This is the latest and best example of the Players’ belief that independent, transparent and collectively bargained policies generate the best systemic results for all parties.
The NFL suspended Elliott for the first six games of the 2017 season after his ex-girlfriend, Tiffany Thompson, accused him of domestic violence in July 2016.
The Columbus (Ohio) City Attorney's office later announced it would not press charges against the Dallas Cowboys running back because of "conflicting and inconsistent information," according to ESPN.com's Todd Archer.
However, the NFL was still free to pursue disciplinary action against Elliott under the terms of its personal conduct policy.
Following a 13-month investigation, the league said it "found substantial and persuasive evidence supporting a finding that [Elliott] engaged in physical violence against Ms. Thompson on multiple occasions during the week of July 16, 2016."
On Thursday, ESPN.com's Dan Graziano cited a source who said the NFLPA "believes it has a strong case for challenging Ezekiel Elliott's suspension based on what it perceives as serious flaws in the NFL's investigative process."
A source also told Graziano NFL director of investigations Kia Wright Roberts—who testified she was the only member of the investigative committee to interview Thompson—recommended no suspension for Elliott and disclosed this information to Henderson during the appeal hearing.
According to the Star-Telegram's Clarence E. Hill Jr., "Roberts' recommendation never made it into the NFL's final report or the official suspension letter on Aug. 11, which cited the league's findings of three instances of domestic violence by Elliott against Thompson based on the victim’s testimony and photographic evidence."
Schefter and Graziano added that after Elliott's appeal hearing ended Thursday, the league put Henderson under pressure to make a final ruling by Monday.