While Ezekiel Elliott will attend his own suspension appeal hearing in New York this Tuesday, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones will not. According to a report from Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the Cowboys will merely send legal counsel to the hearing.
Jones, who maintained for months prior to the ruling that Elliott would not be suspended because there was no evidence that the running back had committed domestic violence, declined to make a projection on what might happen at the appeal.
"Well, I don't want to speculate about that at all," Jones said. "I wouldn't do 'a what if' on that. I'm afraid it would have some kind of meaning and I've been reluctant to comment anyway."
The appeal will be heard by Roger Goodell's designated arbitrator, Harold Henderson, who has heard several suspension appeals in the past. For instance, he reduced the suspension for former Cowboys defensive end Greg Hardy from 10 games to four back in 2015, but upheld Adrian Peterson's indefinite suspension the year before.
Jones evaded the question when asked if he felt Henderson's role as arbitrator gave Elliott hope of seeing his six-game ban reduced or reversed entirely. "Harold is a really great friend of mine," Jones said. "He was at my (Hall of Fame) party and so you weren't at that party unless you were a good friend I promise you that."
Asked if that was a yes, he replied, "I don't know. But he is a friend and of course that's the way it would be. He managed the management council for maybe 15 years I served on it. He's very competent but the main thing is he's a guy that I admire a lot. Former policeman, former attorney. He's come through it the hard way. Literally."
If Elliott's suspension is not overturned, he's expected to take the case to court. There will likely be a race between the NFL and NFLPA to file suit in a favorable jurisdiction so they can receive the ruling they want. It's possible Elliott could receive a stay of the suspension that pushes off any punishment until the conclusion of the case, a la Tom Brady during Deflategate, but the condensed time period before the start of the season could make it difficult to get a ruling by Week 1.
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett has maintained that the team will prepare for the season as if Elliott will play in the opener, but the Cowboys are expected to use Darren McFadden as their lead back and Alfred Morris and Keith Smith as backups if the suspension is upheld.