A federal appeals court cleared the way for the NFL to impose a six-game suspension on Dallas Cowboys star Ezekiel Elliott
A federal appeals court cleared the way for the NFL to impose a six-game suspension on Dallas Cowboys star Ezekiel Elliott over domestic violence allegations on Thursday, siding with the league in the latest high-profile fight over its ability to punish players for off-field behavior.
In a 2-1 decision, the fifth US circuit court of appeals panel in New Orleans granted the leagues emergency request to set aside an injunction and ordered a district court in Texas to dismiss Elliotts case. The case may not be over yet and further appeals were possible.
A federal judge in Texas had issued an injunction that blocked the suspension last month, agreeing with NFL players union attorneys who argued that the investigation of the allegations in Ohio and a subsequent appeal were unfair to Elliott, one of the leagues standout running backs. The Cowboys have a bye this weekend. The NFL countered that it followed procedures under the leagues labor deal and that the union improperly filed a lawsuit before the appeals process was complete.
The most likely destination for further legal challenges from players union attorneys representing Elliott is with the southern district of New York. The NFL filed in that federal court after Elliotts NFL appeal was denied by arbitrator Harold Henderson last month.
If Elliotts legal team cant put the suspension on hold again, it will begin on 22 October against the San Francisco 49ers. Elliott played the first five games while the case was in the courts.
Elliott was suspended in August by the NFL commissioner, Roger Goodell, after the league concluded following a yearlong investigation that he had several physical confrontations in the summer of 2016 with Tiffany Thompson, his girlfriend at the time. Prosecutors in Columbus, Ohio, decided not to pursue the case in the city where Elliott starred for Ohio State, citing conflicting evidence. Last years NFL rushing leader as a rookie, Elliotts legal team filed the lawsuit on his behalf in Texas before Henderson had rejected the appeal.
The NFL had already agreed to let Elliott play in the opener before Elliotts request for an injunction was granted by a judge in Dallas. The NFL filed in the New York court because it is the home of league headquarters and was the site of Elliotts appeal hearing.
The league won the Deflategate decision in the New York court, leading to New England quarterback Tom Brady serving his four-game suspension a year after it was originally imposed. A federal judge had put Bradys suspension on hold. In the Elliott case, league attorneys wrote to the fifth circuit that the unions lawsuit had resulted in hopelessly doomed proceedings that shouldnt continue.