THE PRESS BOX: Did Ezekiel Elliott receive a fair hearing? 'Dis ga be long'

By INIGO 'NAUGHTY' ZENICAZELAYA

WE all know this legal manoeuvre was iminent, so when the NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported Monday that the NFL filed its appeal of Ezekiel Elliott’s preliminary injunction to the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, per court documents, I knew instantly as we say in the Bahamas “Dis ga be long.”

The move was expected after US District Court Judge Amos Mazzant III granted the NFL Players Association’s preliminary injunction request on behalf of Elliott on Friday, putting the six-game suspension of the Dallas Cowboys running back on hold.

WHAT HAPPENS

NEXT:

The NFL’s appeal of the injunction seeks to reinstate Elliott’s suspension. It’s the next phase of the legal process.

In his decision on Friday, Mazzant agreed with the union that Elliott didn’t receive a fair appeal hearing from arbitrator Harold Henderson (Goodell’s hatchet man) who was appointed by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

The NFL wants Elliott to serve the suspension this year. NFL spokesman Joe Lockhart also says Elliott won’t be placed on the Commissioner’s Exempt list.

THE MEAT OF THE

MATTER:

The biggest question now isn’t of Elliott’s guilt or innocence, but one of fair and due process.

In this instance the crux of the matter is this, did Elliott receive a fair hearing?

Judge Mazzant wrote.

“The answer is he did not. The court finds, based upon the injunction standard, that Elliott was denied a fundamentally fair hearing by Henderson’s refusal to allow [former girlfriend Tiffany] Thompson and Goodell to testify at the arbitration hearing. Their absence ... effectively deprived Elliott of any chance to have a fundamentally fair hearing.”

Of course the NFL ‘strongly’ disagrees with Mazzant’s ruling.

“We strongly believe that the investigation and evidence supported the commissioner’s decision and that the process was meticulous and fair throughout,” NFL spokesman Joe Lockhart said in a statement.

“We will review the decision in greater detail and discuss next steps with counsel, both in the district court and federal court of appeals.”

POWER STRUGGLE:

If you are wondering why there is so much legal wrangling in the NFL, Gabe Feldman, director of the Tulane Sports Law Program, has some insight that may make it easier for us all to comprehend.

Feldman noted on NFL Network on Friday that the legal manoeuvring is a continuation of the battle between the NFL and NFLPA -- similar to the one that played out in the Tom Brady case.

“This is part of the ongoing fight between the players association and the league over the power of the commissioner,” Feldman said.

“We have seen the NFL go to great lengths in court to affirm and strengthen and maintain they believe in what they collectively bargained for. And we’ve seen the players association fight and say that the commissioner has overreached and they want to protect the rights of the players ... [The NFL] doesn’t want precedent out there that says a court can interfere with the commissioner’s decision or with an arbitrator’s decision. So I think this fight will continue even if it’s irrelevant to Elliott being on the field or not.”

Very interesting, yet another ‘conspiracy theory’ involving the NFL and my Dallas Cowboys, I need to replenish my hurricane snacks and Jack Daniels, “dis ga be extra long jed.”

WAIVER WIRE

NUGGETS:

If you got off on the wrong foot in Fantasy Football, like I did with two of my teams, here’s three names to keep an eye on when the waiver wire opens.

Tarik Cohen, RB,

Chicago Bears –

If you missed Tarik “The Human Joystick” Cohen’s NFL debut on Sunday, do yourself a favour and watch the highlights on NFL Network.

Cohen took his five carries for 66 yards and caught eight of his team-leading 12 targets for 47 yards and a touchdown.

I wondered in the preseason if Cohen would eat into Jordan Howard’s passing game work, but it appears this could be more of a full-fledged committee after Cohen played on 43 per cent of the plays to Howard’s 56. Cohen needs to be one of the priority adds this week as there’s no way the Bears stop using him after that display.

Kerwynn Williams,

RB, Arizona

Today was a tough one for David Johnson fans.

Not only did the superstar back struggle on the ground (11 carries, 23 yards) but he suffered a wrist injury that could keep him out several weeks, if not more.

That puts Kerwynn Williams at the top of the waiver-wire list, especially for those who drafted Johnson. Williams didn’t get a ton of work in this game because the Cardinals were behind, but he did come in and score a touchdown immediately after Johnson suffered his injury.

He’ll be the starting running back and should receive the most carries from the backfield (career 5.4 yards per carry average), though Andre Ellington could work in more as a receiver.

We’ll know more about the extent of Johnson’s injury on Wednesday, but for now make sure to have Williams’ name circled when it comes time to put in waiver claims.

Kenny Golladay,

WR, Detroit

If you follow any fantasy analysts on Twitter, you likely saw them throwing fuel into the engine of the Kenny Golladay hype train.

Well, in Week 1 that train hit speeds previously believed to be unreachable after the rookie scored two touchdowns and racked up 69 yards on four catches.

Golladay has the athletic profile and talent to be a true difference maker, and the only thing possibly holding him back will be market share. He saw seven targets in this game, but that could have been partially because Marvin Jones drew Patrick Peterson in coverage for much of the game (37 plays, allowing two targets, one rec, six yards, and a touchdown).

Jones and Golden Tate were on the field for 94 and 87 per cent of the snaps, respectively, while the rookie clocked in with 62.

Golladay needs to be picked up this week, but owners should be mentally prepared in case Jones jumps back ahead of Golladay in the pecking order next week against the Giants.

• Naughty presents ‘Mischief and Mayhem in da AM’ from 6am to 10am, Monday to Friday and ‘The Press Box’ sports talk show on Sunday from 10am to 1pm, on KISS FM 96.1. Comments and questions to naughty@tribunemedia.net

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