Yesterday morning, SB Nation’s Cowboys blog, Blogging The Boys, published an article about the NFL’s ongoing investigation into domestic violence allegations against Dallas running back Ezekiel Elliott. The post was a reaction to reports that the league may be getting ready to hand Elliott a one- or two-game suspension despite the charges against him having been dropped. Some time this morning, that post was deleted. The cached version can be viewed here.
Though it’s certainly valid to criticize the NFL’s continued insistence on acting as an extra-judicial arm and doling out suspensions despite its inability to navigate the complexities of of each case, the post on Blogging The Boys went far afield of that criticism:
Even if the league suspends Elliott without pay for just one game, it effectively sets the market price for an unprovable accusation: at least one NFL game check.
A look at sites like Spotrac.com or OverTheCap.com would quickly give potential blackmailers the precise amount of money (NFL players are paid in 17 game checks over the course of a season) a player would be set to lose to an unprovable accusation.
You may think the threat of blackmail is far-fetched, but it is not.
•In 2015, Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman found himself photographed in a rather compromising position when a woman, identified only as Sabrina, posted a selfie on Tinder in bed with a sleeping Edelman (Deadspin has a screengrab). What if instead of bragging about the night with Edelman, she had made a DV-type accusation?
•That same year, a 19-year old bragged on Tinder about having had sex with Odell Beckham. What if she had been looking for a big payday?
•But NFL players aren’t just at risk from former bedmates. In 2012, Robert Griffin was blackmailed by Richard Hurd, the ex-boyfriend of Griffin’s fiancee. At the time, Hurd demanded $1 million or he would provide the media with information that would damage Griffin’s reputation. Griffin contacted the authorities, and Hurd was eventually arrested and sentenced to jail. If another player was faced with a similar situation today, and the blackmail threat included allegations of domestic violence, would that player still contact the authorities, or simply pay up?
Effectively, any acquaintance with a grudge - or with a need for cash - will be handed a weapon by the league in case of an Elliott suspension based on the DV allegation.
We’ve reached out to SB Nation general manger Kevin Lockland and league manager Joel Thorman for comment on whose decision it was to delete the post.
Update (10:48 a.m.): The original post has been replaced by this editor’s note.