It’s commendable the NFL is attempting to take a firm stance against domestic violence, ending decades of weakness and double standards on such a terrible plague.
Not hitting women is easy. Too often NFL players have done it anyway.
Yet, as with so much of the Roger Goodell era, even a well-intentioned idea can come undone via arrogance and incompetence.
Everything these days is a reaction to the league doing a poor job investigating Ray Rice. Then, the NFL failed to follow through and acquire the ugly elevator surveillance tape, only to be horrified and humiliated when the video later emerged. Now, it supposedly presses everything.
Any investigative and judicial system, however, has to be rooted in transparency and fairness, or else whatever verdict it renders – even seemingly the most justified – is compromised. To cut corners is to undermine not just the righteousness of the decision, but the victim seeking justice.
Only Ezekiel Elliott and his one-time girlfriend, Tiffany Thompson, know for sure what happened between them in July 2016. Thompson said she was repeatedly abused. Elliott vehemently denies it.
Authorities in Columbus, Ohio, chose not to prosecute. The NFL conducted its own 13-month investigation and found Elliott guilty, leveling a six-game suspension last month. Elliott appealed and lost Tuesday night in a decision that was not a reaffirmation of the ruling but based solely on whether Goodell had enough information to make a ruling.
A restraining order Elliott filed against the league will be determined late Friday by a Texas judge. Either way, Elliott will play Sunday in the Dallas Cowboys’ season opener against the New York Giants. Nothing after that is guaranteed.
This isn’t to say Elliott did or didn’t do it. It’s to say, if the NFL is going to make that determination, if the league is going to discipline a player for an act as serious as domestic abuse, it needs to be airtight in both its reasoning and the process that led to its decision.
The most glaring issue is NFL investigator Kia Wright Roberts testified at Elliott’s appeal hearing that she would not have recommended suspending Elliott in this case. She cited a lack of corroborating evidence, both via witnesses and other data, to back up Thompson’s story. She was the only person from the NFL to speak to Thompson.
The NFL is within its rights to reject the opinion of its investigator, but doing so warrants an explanation. Rather than provide one in its original ruling that deemed Elliott’s actions “inappropriate and disturbing,” the league failed to mention Robert’s counter-opinion at all.
The NFL just acted like it didn’t exist. Or, more likely, operated under the belief the counter-opinion would never get out.
This is malpractice. And not just if you are inclined to believe Elliott did no wrong.
It’s especially malpractice if you’re the NFL and you believe that he did.
Having the lead investigator disagree with the decision due to a lack of evidence and credibility has to be revealed. Then it needs to be explained away, immediately and thoroughly. It’s the obvious weak point of the decision, and thus needs to be answered for in convincing fashion.
This is Day 1 of law school stuff. You have to fight for your accuser.
To just hope no one finds out is ridiculous. Elliott and the NFLPA were going to pursue every defensive angle available. Everything was (and is) going to come out. It’s a lesson the NFL should have learned during deflate-gate when it blatantly misstated testimony from Tom Brady, only to be burnt when a federal judge, against the league’s vehement protest, unsealed transcripts of the hearing.
Mostly, though, this is completely unfair to Thompson, who shouldn’t be put on her heels by the now one-sided revelation about Roberts’ opinion. If the NFL was going to completely believe Thompson and base its case on Thompson’s word, then it needed to proactively defend any obvious attacks on her.
Instead, the league hung her out to dry.
The NFL leaned heavily on photos and forensic evidence in determining Thompson was injured, but it also needed to declare in its initial ruling why that evidence was so compelling that Roberts’ opinion should be discarded. With the league not doing that clearly and pointedly, the public has only heard that the investigator, like the police and prosecutors, didn’t think there was enough to move forward. That’s a damaging and depressing place to put an accuser.
The NFL believes Elliott is guilty. It believes Tiffany Thompson. It may be correct. Yet the league’s floundering has armed Elliott and his lawyers with the reasonable argument to muddy the waters, cast doubts on Thompson and rally support.
It was the league that has proven to be its own – and its chief witness’ – worst enemy here.
And that’s why this is so unacceptable. And that’s why it goes so far beyond this single case. This isn’t the inflation level of a football anymore. This is ugly, real-world stuff.
Why would any future victim trust the NFL to handle these cases properly? Why would any future victim trust the NFL to adequately argue for her? Why would any future victim come forward and speak to the league?
Eradicating domestic violence in the league is an admirable goal. Using an investigative and disciplinary system built on short-term, blunt-force thinking, however, is another unpardonable systemic failure by Roger Goodell’s NFL.
This one comes with real and chilling consequences.
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Casey Austin Keenum (born February 17, 1988) is an American footballquarterback for the Minnesota Vikings of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football for Houston, where he became the NCAA's all-time leader in total passing yards, touchdowns, and completions. He was signed by the Houston Texans as an undrafted free agent in 2012, and has also played for the St. Louis / Los Angeles Rams.
In the 2008 college football season, Keenum ranked first nationally in total offense and second in total passing yards. As a result of his on-field contributions to Houston's success, Keenum was named to several All-American lists. He is the only quarterback in Division I FBS football history to have passed for more than 5,000 yards in each of three seasons. That season, Keenum became the Football Bowl Subdivision's all-time leader in total offense, as well as the all-time leader in total touchdown passes by an FBS quarterback.
Being signed by the Texans as an undrafted free agent in 2012, Keenum threw for 1,760 yards and 9 touchdowns in the eight games he started for the Texans, before being waived prior to the 2014 season. Keenum was then signed to the St. Louis Rams' practice squad. He re-signed with the Texans later in 2014. In 2015, the Rams traded a draft pick to the Texans for Keenum, where he played until signing as a free agent with the Vikings in 2017.
High school career
Keenum played football for Wylie High School in Abilene, Texas. During his high school career, he passed for 6,783 yards and 48 touchdowns and rushed for 41 touchdowns and 2,000 yards. Logging 42 starts at quarterback, Keenum posted a career record of 31–11. In 2004, Keenum led Wylie in the game-winning drive for a 17–14 victory over Cuero High School of Cuero, Texas in the Texas Class 3A Division I championship game. This is Wylie's only state championship to date as of the end of the 2015 season. In addition to being recruited by Houston, Keenum was recruited by Baylor, North Texas, and UTEP, although Houston was the only university to offer a scholarship. Keenum also earned varsity letters in basketball and track during his high school career.
|Name||Hometown||High school / college||Height||Weight||40‡||Commit date|
|Abilene, Texas||Wylie HS||6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)||183 lb (83 kg)||4.68||Jan 27, 2006|
|Recruiting star ratings:Scout: Rivals: 247Sports: N/A|
|Overall recruiting rankings:Scout: 69 (college recruiting) Rivals: 91 (college recruiting)|
Keenum began his college career at the University of Houston during the 2006 season. During his freshman season, decorated senior Kevin Kolb held the starting quarterback position for the Cougars, leading the coaching staff to redshirt Keenum for the season. The 2006 Cougars won the Conference USA championship, and Kolb was drafted by the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles.
In fall camp before the 2007 season, the Cougars held a de facto quarterback competition to fill the starting spot vacated by the departure of four-year starter Kevin Kolb. The competition swung between Keenum and sophomore Blake Joseph throughout two-a-days and during much of the season, with each player displaying a different set of strengths and weaknesses. Keenum made his first collegiate appearance on September 1, 2007 when the Cougars opened the season at the Oregon Ducks. He threw for 179 yards and a touchdown on 14-of-27 passing and added 47 rushing yards on nine carries against the Ducks. Against C-USA rival Tulane Green Wave in the second game, Keenum threw for 185 yards and a touchdown on 13-of-21 passing, leading Houston to a 34–10 win. In the third game of the year against the Colorado State Rams, Keenum came on in relief of starter Blake Joseph and accounted for four touchdowns. For this performance, Keenum was recognized as CollegeSportsReport.com's Division I FBS National Performer of the Week. Keenum played at quarterback in all thirteen games of the season, starting in seven. Late in the season, the UH coaching staff finally tabbed Keenum to be the regular starting quarterback over Blake Joseph. Keenum's outstanding pocket presence and efficient passing won out in the end over Joseph's stronger arm and running ability.
During the 2008 season, Keenum became the second player in school history to complete over 5,000 passing yards in one season. He also led the nation in total offense, and was the national runner-up in passing yards, behind Texas Tech'sGraham Harrell. The Houston Cougars would show many signs of improvement as a whole, as they won their first bowl game since 1980 with a win over Air Force, and defeated two nationally ranked opponents. Following the season, Keenum would win the 2008 Conference USA Offensive Player of the Year award.
Keenum led the Houston Cougars to a 10–4 record in 2009. Keenum finished the 2009 season with 48 total touchdowns and over 5,800 total offensive yards. His play helped Houston upset then #5-ranked Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, and later Mississippi State. Houston played East Carolina on the road in the Conference USA Championship, but lost the game in the final minute. Houston faced Air Force in a rematch of the previous year's Armed Forces Bowl. However, this time, Air Force emerged victorious. In cold, windy conditions, Keenum threw 6 interceptions in the game, and was held to only one touchdown. He finished in 8th place in the Heisman Trophy voting in the 2009 season.
Keenum was in a position to challenge more than one major NCAA division one passing record at the start of the 2010 season, including career passing yards and touchdowns. However, after throwing for a total of 636 passing yards and three touchdowns in three games, Keenum tore his ACL during the Cougars' third game of the season against UCLA. The injury ended Keenum's season, and Houston would finish 5–7. Keenum earned his bachelor's degree in business administration from the University of Houston Bauer College of Business in December 2010.
On January 14, 2011, the NCAA granted Keenum a sixth year of eligibility. Prior to the 2011 season, he was named the 2011 Conference USA Preseason Offensive Player of the Year for the third year in a row. On October 27, 2011, Keenum set the all-time NCAA Division I passing touchdowns record by throwing for 9 touchdowns against Rice. Keenum also enrolled in the University of Houston College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences studying for a master's degree in physical administration with a concentration on sports administration. On November 19, 2011, Keenum set the record for career completions in a 37–7 win over SMU. The Cougars had a record of 12–0 coming into the Conference USA Championship. However, the Cougars were defeated by Southern Miss by a score of 49–28. Keenum completed 41 of 67 pass attempts for 373 yards through the air, two touchdown passes, and two interceptions. After the loss, Houston played Penn State in the TicketCity Bowl, where they won 30–14. Keenum passed for 532 yards, and threw three touchdown passes. In the 2011 season, he finished in 7th place in the Heisman Trophy voting.
College career statistics
- 2× Sammy Baugh Trophy (2009, 2011)
- 2× Conference USA Most Valuable Player (2009, 2011)
- Conference USA Offensive Player of the Year (2008)
- Conference USA Freshman of the Year (2007)
As of the end of the 2016 college football season, Keenum holds the following NCAA individual records:
- Most career pass completions: 1,546
- Most career passing yards: 19,217
- Most career passing touchdowns: 155
- Most career games with 300+ passing yards: 39
- Most games with 300+ passing yards in a single season: 14 (tied with Paul Smith)
- Most seasons passing for 5,000+ yards: 3
- Most seasons passing for 4,000+ yards: 3 (tied with four others)
- Most career total yards: 20,114
- Most career touchdowns responsible for: 178
|Ht||Wt||Arm length||Hand size||40-yard dash||10-yd split||20-yd split||20-ss||3-cone||Vert jump||Broad||BP|
|6 ft 0 1⁄2 in|
|30 7⁄8 in|
|9 1⁄8 in|
|4.82 s||1.63 s||2.72 s||4.28 s||6.87 s||32.5 in|
|8 ft 7 in|
|Bench press, shuttle, and cone drill values are from Houston Pro Day; all other values are from the NFL Combine|
Despite his many awards and success in college, Keenum was projected as a late draft pick, with the major factors for his low stock being undersized at 6 feet, a possibility to only be able to play in a spread offense, and was granted a medical redshirt once in his college career. After Keenum went undrafted, he signed with the Houston Texans.
After being signed as an undrafted free agent, Keenum was placed on the Texans practice squad, where he spent the entire 2012 regular season.
In 2013, Keenum was placed on the Texans' 53-man roster as a third string quarterback behind starter Matt Schaub and second string quarterback T. J. Yates. On October 17, head coach Gary Kubiak announced that Keenum would be the starting quarterback over backup Yates in Week 7 against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday October 20, after starting quarterback Schaub was unable to play due to an injury. In his pro debut on October 20, Keenum threw his first career touchdown pass, a 29-yarder to DeAndre Hopkins. In the end, Keenum completed 15 of 25 passes for 271 yards and a touchdown, along with a 110.6 passer rating, the highest by a Texan quarterback in the season. However, Houston lost, 17–16. On November 3, Keenum threw three passing touchdowns against the Indianapolis Colts, all three to Andre Johnson in the first half. Keenum also had 350 passing yards and 26 rushing yards, despite the Texans losing 27–24. Keenum was 0–8 as a starter for the Texans in 2013.
St. Louis Rams
On August 31, 2014, Keenum was waived by the Texans to clear a roster space for recently acquired quarterback Ryan Mallett. He was claimed off waivers the next day by the St. Louis Rams. He was waived by the St. Louis Rams on October 28, 2014, in order to make room on the roster for newly acquired safety Mark Barron. He re-signed to the team's practice squad on October 30.
Houston Texans (second stint)
On December 15, 2014, Keenum was signed off the Rams practice squad back to the Houston Texans. He filled a roster spot after starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick broke his left leg in a game against the Indianapolis Colts on December 14, 2014, and on December 21, 2014, he won his first NFL game beating the Baltimore Ravens by a score of 25–13. On December 28, 2014, he won a second consecutive game with the Texans against the Jacksonville Jaguars 23–17.
St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams (second stint)
On March 11, 2015, Keenum was acquired from the Texans for a 7th-round pick in 2016. It was announced by head coach Jeff Fisher that Keenum would be the backup quarterback to recently acquired Nick Foles. On November 16, the Rams named Keenum the starting quarterback after announcing they had benched Foles.
Near the end of the Rams' week-11 game against the Baltimore Ravens, Keenum suffered a concussion that left him visibly wobbly, but he was not removed from the game for evaluation; this led to an investigation by the NFL and the NFL Players Association.
Keenum recovered from the concussion and led the Rams to consecutive victories against the Detroit Lions, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Seattle Seahawks. He recorded a Rams record near-"perfect game" against the Buccaneers, achieving a 158.0 passer rating by going 14 for 17 for 234 yards and two touchdowns in the last home game in the history of the St. Louis Rams. Keenum finished the 2015 season (six games played, five as the starter) with 828 yards, four touchdowns, and one interception, with a 60.8% completion percentage.
In January 12, 2016, the Rams officially moved back to Los Angeles. It was announced via Fisher and GM Les Snead that Keenum would be the starting quarterback heading into training camp. On April 18, 2016, Keenum signed a 1-year first round restricted free-agent tender with the Los Angeles Rams. On August 6, 2016, Keenum was named as the starter in the preseason opener against the Dallas Cowboys. After the preseason, Keenum began the regular season as the starting quarterback. After a 28-0 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in the opener, he led the team to 3 straight wins over the Seattle Seahawks, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Arizona Cardinals.
In week 6 at Detroit, Keenum went 27/32 with 321 yards, three touchdowns, an interception, a rushing touchdown, and even set a team record with 19 consecutive completions. However, the Rams would lose a 31-28 shootout. The following week against the Giants at Twickenham Stadium, Keenum was intercepted four times as the Giants won 17-10. After the game, Rams head coach Jeff Fisher announced his decision to keep Keenum as starter. However, on November 15, 2016, Keenum was benched for Jared Goff, who the Rams had taken with the first overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.
On March 31, 2017, Keenum signed a one-year contract with the Minnesota Vikings. Due to an injury to Sam Bradford, Keenum started the Week 2 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, completing 20 of 37 passes for 167 yards in a 26–9 loss. During Week 3 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Keenum threw for 369 yards and 3 touchdowns as the Vikings won by a score of 34–17. In Weeks 4–7, Keenum averaged 196 yards with a total of two touchdowns and two interceptions, but a record of 3–1 over the span. In Week 8 he had two touchdowns and 288 yards against the winless Cleveland Browns to enter the bye-week. During Week 10 against the Washington Redskins, Keenum threw for 304 yards, 4 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions as the Vikings won their fifth straight game, 38–30. In Week 11 against his former team, the Los Angeles Rams, Keenum threw for 280 yards and 1 touchdown, resulting in 6 straight games won. On Thanksgiving Day, during Week 12 against the Lions, Keenum finished with 282 passing yards and 2 touchdowns as the Vikings won 30–23. He was named the NFC Offensive Player of the Month for November after passing for 866 yards with 7 touchdowns and just 2 interceptions. In 15 games (14 starts) of 2017, Keenum finished with 3,547 passing yards, 22 touchdowns, 7 interceptions, and a passer rating of 98.3.
The Vikings finished the 2017 season with a 13–3 record, clinching the NFC North Division. In the NFC Divisional Round against the New Orleans Saints, Keenum finished with 318 passing yards, a touchdown, and an interception. With only 10 seconds left in the fourth quarter, Keenum threw a pass to Stefon Diggs, who ran 61 yards for the game-winning touchdown, giving the Vikings a miraculous 29–24 victory. However the next week the Vikings would be blown out, 38-7, by the eventual Super Bowl winners, the Philadelphia Eagles, led by his former Rams teammate Nick Foles. Keenum will became a free agent in March 2018.
NFL career statistics
- Regular season
Born in Brownwood, Texas, Keenum spent his childhood in Abilene, Texas, and is the son of Steve Keenum who served as an offensive lineman and later as head football coach and athletic director at McMurry. The elder Keenum, known for an aggressive passing offensive strategy, was also head coach at Sul Ross State, offensive coordinator at Tarleton State, and offensive line coach at Hardin–Simmons.
Keenum, a Christian, married Kimberly Caddell in June 2011. Kimberly is also a native of Abilene, Texas.
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- ^"Ticket City Bowl - Penn State vs Houston Box Score, January 2, 2012". College Football at Sports-Reference.com. Retrieved 2018-01-19.
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