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The lawsuit was filed late Thursday night in federal court in Texas. It accuses the NFL's appeal process of being "fundamentally unfair" because arbitrator Harold Henderson denied attempts by Elliott's attorneys to have his ex-girlfriend testify at a hearing that wrapped up earlier Thursday.
In addition, the NFL's director of investigations testified in the hearing on Tuesday that she would not have recommended discipline for the Cowboys running back based on what she found, according to reporting by both ESPN and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. If Henderson rules that Elliott remains suspended for any stretch of games, the court then can decide to stay the suspension while it reviews the matter, and Elliott could potentially be allowed to play while the case works its way through the courts.
According to both ESPN and the Star-Telegram, Kia Wright Roberts, the NFL's director of investigations, testified Tuesday that she was the only NFL employee who interviewed Elliott's accuser, Tiffany Thompson, during the investigation and that she would not have recommended discipline for Elliott based on what she found.
Roberts further testified, according to the hearing transcripts, that she was not included in the part of the process in which the committee that investigated the Elliott matter recommended discipline to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
As a result, the NFL Players Association believes it has a strong case for challenging Elliott's suspension based on what it perceives as serious flaws in the NFL's investigative process, the source said.
According to Profootballtalk.com's Mike Florio, the petition also points to various procedural flaws, including the decision of the league to insulate Thompson from cross-examination and a refusal to share investigation notes from six different NFL interviews of Thompson. The petition likewise chides Henderson for refusing to require testimony from Goodell, who made the decision to impose discipline.
Florio went on to suggest that "If, as the petition claims, Roberts was kept away from key meetings that resulted in the suspension, the entire case against Elliott could implode."
As Associated Press sports writer Schuyler Dixon reports, Henderson is supposed to rule on the NFL's decision to suspend Elliott "as soon as practicable," according to the labor agreement. But the lawsuit seeks to pre-empt Henderson's ruling.
Elliott, the NFL's 2016 rushing leader as a rookie, was suspended after the league concluded he used physical force last summer in Ohio against Thompson, his girlfriend at the time. Prosecutors didn't pursue the case, citing conflicting evidence. Elliott has denied the allegations.
And suddenly, Elliott's chances of playing all 16 games this season seem much more reasonable.