-- NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on Wednesday appointed Harold Henderson to be the arbiter for Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott's appeal hearing on Aug. 29, a source confirmed to ESPN.
Henderson, a former chairman of the NFL's management council executive committee, also was the arbiter for the appeal hearings of former Cowboys defensive end Greg Hardy and then- Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson. Henderson reduced Hardy's suspension for alleged domestic violence from 10 games to four in 2015 and upheld Peterson's indefinite suspension for child abuse in 2014.
The NFL Players Association officially filed an appeal of Elliott's six-game suspension on Tuesday. The NFL announced the suspension on Friday after a 13-month investigation, which started after ex-girlfriend Tiffany Thompson accused Elliott of domestic violence in Columbus, Ohio.
Elliott's appeal will focus on testimony given by Thompson to the NFL, according to documents obtained by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
Elliott will argue, according to the documents, that Thompson made multiple threats to "ruin his career." The appeal also will highlight text messages from Thompson that encouraged a friend to lie to police about an alleged domestic assault in July 2016.
The NFL released a statement Wednesday saying it is common but "shameful" tactic to try to prove a defendant's innocence by discrediting an alleged victim.
"Over the past few days we've received multiple reports of the NFLPA spreading derogatory information to the media about the victim in Ezekiel Elliott discipline case. It's a common tactic to attempt to prove the innocence of the accused by discrediting the victim -- in this case Ms. Thompson -- when coming forward to report such abuse," Joe Lockhart, the NFL's executive vice president of communications, said in a statement.
"Common or not, these tactics are shameful. Efforts to shame and blame victims are often what prevent people from coming forward to report violence and/or seek help in the first place."
The NFLPA responded with a statement by calling the league's allegations that the union was spreading information about the case a "lie."
"The public statement issued on behalf of every NFL owner is a lie. The NFLPA categorically denies the accusations made in this statement. We know the League office has a history of being exposed for its lack of credibility. This is another example of the NFL's hypocrisy on display and an attempt to create a sideshow to distract from their own failings in dealing with such serious issues. They should be ashamed for stooping to new lows," it said.
The NFL Network first reported that Henderson would be the arbiter for Elliott's appeal. According to the collective bargaining agreement, the commissioner could have heard the appeal himself.
Elliott has not commented since training camp began, but he said via Twitter that he disagreed with the NFL's suspension. He is not required to be in attendance at the hearing. He can be involved through a conference call or teleconference.
The Columbus City Attorney's Office announced in September that it would not pursue charges against Elliott because of "conflicting and inconsistent information."
The NFL can penalize a player even without legal charges.
Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones deferred comment on his feelings about Elliott's suspension when he spoke Tuesday. Before the suspension was announced, Jones said he did not anticipate any discipline from the NFL. Sources indicated Jones has been upset since the penalty was handed down.
"I'm best going to comment on this thing when I have all of our thoughts and plans in place," Jones said.
In a statement made after the league's ruling last week, Elliott's lawyers said, "The NFL's findings are replete with factual inaccuracies and erroneous conclusions and it 'cherry picks' so called evidence to support its conclusion while ignoring other critical evidence."