The window was wide-open for the NFL to move through the Ezekiel Elliott domestic violence suspension appeal methodically, dispassionately, focused on the topic at hand, emphasizing the evidence it had on its side and getting out of this without its hands dirtied.

Instead, in true NFL fashion, the league slammed that window shut, on its own fingers, almost immediately.

Congratulations, NFL. Now you get to explain how this is not just another public brawl with the players union, a battle in your ongoing war, instead of a clear-headed process of handling the appeal you and everybody else knew was coming.

With that statement released Wednesday trashing the union, the NFL has all but guaranteed that, once again, there’s going to be an investigation of the investigation. This might be an investigation of the investigation of the investigation, since the appeal itself is in serious doubt after that pointless, seemingly purposely, wildly unnecessarily antagonistic attack.

The appeal was going to be complicated enough, with the reported defense Elliott's side is preparing, to paint accuser Tiffany Thompson as a blackmailer. Yahoo! reported that this was information the NFL already possessed, that it had included it in its report of the evidence it had considered.