NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has named Harold Henderson to hear Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott's appeal of his six-game suspension, according to Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero of NFL.com.
Henderson, who sits on the NFL/NFLPA Player Care Foundation, oversaw Greg Hardy's appeal and reduced his suspension from 10 games to four, per Rapoport.
Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report and Pro Football Talk's Michael David Smith offered differing viewpoints on the appointment:
mike freeman @mikefreemanNFL
Best news for Ezekiel Elliott is that Harold Henderson will hear his appeal. Harold is no lackey.2017-8-16 15:48:03
Michael David Smith @MichaelDavSmith
The NFL players' union has previously questioned whether Harold Henderson is really impartial https://t.co/6JiYIVpk7l2017-8-16 15:37:00
Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk offered more on the potential impartiality of Henderson:
"Goodell could have assigned the matter to a truly independent party. Goodell ultimately opted not to surrender the outcome to someone who would have been handling the case as a one-and-done project. Henderson, by virtue of the fact that the league regularly hires him to provide appeal services, is viewed as someone who will be inclined to rubber stamp the decision from the league—even if he hasn't always done that."
For context of Henderson's decisions in the past, Pelissero shared his ruling on the Hardy case:
Tom Pelissero @TomPelissero
Here's what Harold Henderson said on reducing Greg Hardy's suspension in July 2015. It was about precedent/notice, not conduct. https://t.co/Ghefix1PFf2017-8-16 16:11:36
Elliott, 22, was suspended six games by the NFL after an investigation into an allegation of domestic violence made by a woman in Columbus, Ohio.
While he was never arrested or charged with a crime in the case, the league's year-long investigation found "substantial and persuasive evidence supporting a finding that [Elliott] engaged in physical violence against [his ex-girlfriend] on multiple occasions during the week of July 16, 2016."
Henderson will now be tasked with determining if the league's ruling and subsequent punishment were justified.