When Ezekiel Elliott and the NFLPA made the decision to take the NFL to court on Friday over Elliott's six-game suspension, the player's association filed several documents that hadn't previously been made public.
In the NFLPA's petition, which was filed in the Eastern District Court of Texas, the transcripts from the NFL's investigation into Elliott became available for the first time, along with the transcripts from his arbitration hearing that took place Aug. 29-31.
At some point during the arbitration hearing, Elliott had to answer questions under oath from NFL lawyer Daniel Nash. During his questioning, Nash specifically asked Elliott if he liked to do drink and do drugs, and in both cases, Elliott confirmed that he did.
Here's the line of questioning (via the Fort Worth Star-Telegram)
Nash: "And I think you said you liked her [ex-girlfriend Tiffany Thompson] because she liked to party, drink and do drugs?"
Nash: "You liked to do that, too?"
Elliott: "I do like to party."
Nash: "And like to get drunk?"
Nash: "You like to do drugs?"
Elliott: "I did in college."
Despite the fact that Elliott is admitting that he liked to do drugs in college, the running back never failed a drug test during his three-year career at Ohio State (2013-15).
Although Elliott didn't specifically mention what drugs he took while at OSU, Thompson claimed she saw him do at least two different drugs during their time together. During a separate interview with NFL investigator Kia Roberts in September 2016, Thompson alleged that Elliott had been smoking weed and doing cocaine while he was in Miami training for the NFL Draft.
"When he was in Miami, he was doing a bunch of coke and smoking, and all of that," Thompson said.
Roberts then asked Thompson whether she ever actually personally saw Elliott do either drug.
"I did," Thompson replied.
Roberts is the same NFL investigator who said she wouldn't have recommended a suspension for Elliott because she didn't think Thompson was a credible witness.
The bottom line here is that things could get uglier in this case before anything actually gets solved, especially after Friday's claim by the NFLPA that there's a conspiracy against Elliott.
In the court petition filed by the NFLPA, the player's association made a claim that there's a "league-orchestrated conspiracy by senior NFL executives ... to hide critical information" in Elliott's case.
One of the key claims made by NFLPA lawyer Jeffrey Kessler is that the NFL "deliberately omitted a conclusion" that had been made by Roberts at the end of her investigation. As the NFL's point person in the Elliott case, Roberts was the only league employee who was able to interview Thompson during the league's 13-month investigation, and she didn't find Thompson to be a credible witness, a fact that wasn't included in the league's 160-page report on the Elliott case.
The NFL fired back later on Friday saying that no such conspiracy exists.
As things stand now, the decision on Elliott's six-game suspension is currently in the hands of arbitrator Harold Henderson, who served as the appeals officer in Elliott's case. If Henderson doesn't considerably reduce the suspension or eliminate it altogether, things could get messy after that.
Basically, if Elliott's suspension is upheld on appeal or if he's unhappy with the outcome, the case will definitely be going to court. Once the case is in court, the running back would be allowed to play if the court grants him an injunction. An injunction was why Tom Brady didn't have to serve his suspension until 2016 even though he was handed his suspension in May 2015.
Of course, if the case goes to court and an injunction isn't granted, Elliott would likely have to start serving his suspension right away.
Either way, there's big pressure on Henderson, who is likely going to have come up with an airtight decision over the next 48 hours. According to ESPN.com, the hope is that Henderson will have a decision about the Elliott appeal by Monday.
The full transcript of Elliott's appeal hearing, along with the NFL's 160-page report on the Elliott case and the transcript of the interview with Thompson, which were all obtained by the Dallas Morning News, can be found by clicking here.