The NFL’s loss prevention team is a public relations sham

Loss Prevention is a department of business most associated with retail establishments. From Macy’s to Walmart, retail around the world has cameras, floor walkers, assistants, secret shoppers, and sometimes even holding cells.

Protection of your goods and services is a major part of a successful business and critical to its operation. But it can play another very important role as well, protecting your employees and protecting your bottom line.

Imagine someone comes into your business and claims that an unsafe shelf fell and broke their foot. They are suing for their doctor bills, their lost time at work, and punitive damages; a total of over $100,000. Loss Prevention would come in, pull the tapes and investigate, asking witness, employees and overall building a case to prevent this lawsuit from happening.

Turns out, they came in limping. Case closed.

The NFL has a loss prevention team as well. And with Ezekiel Elliott, they set him up to fail. But, it’s all a public relations move and I’m predicting the suspension gets changed to two games instead of six. Here’s why.

Meet David McCain

David is the Director of Digital Forensics for the NFL. He is the one that was charged with going through the text messages and other digital communications that Ezekiel had with his girlfriend, his girlfriend had with other friends, and any other social media accounts that any of the parties represent.

The NFL believed that Ezekiel’s girlfriend at the time, Tiffany Thompson, was trying to set him up. The first news of this actually broke last September, but was not included in some of the initial reports that were made public due to the validity of the claims.

Roger Goodell

Goodell placed a 6 game suspension on the Dallas back to start the beginning of the season. Many of the investigators believed that this was the right call, due to evidence that supported Ms. Thompson’s claims. The evidence that was gathered in the yearlong investigation by the NFL and 160 page report was not all available by the City’s Attorney’s Office in Columbus, Ohio where Mr. Elliott was never officially charged.

Lisa Friel

The meta data pulled from phones and computers that was compiled by the NFL was then reviewed by a board of advisors, including experts on domestic violence. The lead investigator for the NFL, Lisa Friel, stated that the Ms. Thompson’s credibility had been compromised by “misleading testimony” conducted by the NFL investigators, in this case, believed to be David McCain.

Ms. Thompson had said during text messages that she was going to blackmail Elliott with “sex tapes” that she had in order to make money.

Ultimately though, it was decided by the NFL that Ms. Thompson was telling the truth about the abuse and suspended Elliott.

Why Suspend Then?

Repercussion from the Ray Rice incident is a bitter taste on the tongue of every NFL owner. The NFL brought in Tonya Lovelace, CEO of the Women of Color Network and an intimate partner violence expert and advocate. She sat in on an advisory board during the investigation process but was not present when the punishment was discussed or meted out.

Considering that Lisa Friel has already stated that she did not believe some of the validity to Ms. Thompsons story, Mr. Elliott and his team will most likely be able to point to this to reduce the suspension.

If the NFL’s investigation turned over so much new evidence that it is irrefutable that Mr. Elliott is guilty of domestic violence how is it that the Columbus, Ohio penal system could not do the same? There is also no civil lawsuit pending from Ms. Thompson. If the 160 page report from the NFL is damning enough to suspend Mr. Elliott, then it should also be enough to start a civil lawsuit against him for the same charges.

Making a Mockery

If the NFL changes Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension for the what lead investigator Lisa Friel had stated then this is surely nothing more than a PR move to make sure other advocacy groups do not draw any unneeded attention. If they ultimately decide that Ms. Thompson’s total credibility had been compromised and reduce the sentence, I hope advocacy groups for domestic violence would take note of this investigation and press the NFL to make public all of their findings.

Otherwise, this was nothing more than a slick move by a large corporation to limit their losses, both monetarily and in the court of public opinion.