The NFL’s six-game suspension of Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel
Elliott stemming from domestic violence allegations has been reinstated
by a federal appeals court.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the
Fifth Circuit granted the league’s request for an emergency stay of the
injunction that was issued by a federal judge to keep Elliott’s
suspension on hold while his case proceeds in court.
The NFL said
it would enforce Elliott’s suspension beginning immediately. If that
stands, Elliott would be eligible to return to the Cowboys on Nov. 24,
the league said, which would be a day after the team’s Thanksgiving
matchup against the Los Angeles Chargers, and in time for its Nov. 30
game against the rival Redskins.
“Earlier today, the Fifth
Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the preliminary injunction that
prohibited the league from imposing the six-game suspension issued to
Ezekiel Elliott for a violation of the Personal Conduct Policy,” the
league said in a written statement. “The Court also directed the
district court to dismiss the union’s lawsuit which was filed on
Elliott’s behalf. As a result, Elliott’s suspension will begin effective
Elliott’s legal representatives were said to be sorting through their options.
appeals court judges voted, 2-1, to grant the NFL’s request to lift the
injunction. The league had argued that the district court in Texas that
granted the injunction did not have proper jurisdiction because the
players’ union filed its case on Elliott’s behalf before his appeal was
completed. Two of the three appeals court judges agreed with that. The
dissenting judge ruled there could be merit to Elliott’s claim that the
NFL’s appeal process was not fair.
The union said in a written
statement: “The NFLPA is reviewing the decision and considering all
options. The appellate court decision focuses on the jurisdictional
issues. The failures of due process by the NFL articulated in the
District Court’s decision were not addressed.”
The union and
Elliott’s attorneys could appeal the ruling of the three-judge panel to
the entire appeals court. They could attempt to put the suspension back
on hold by seeking an injunction or temporary restraining order in
federal court in New York, where the NFL filed a lawsuit attempting to
affirm the arbitration decision that upheld the suspension. Or Elliott’s
legal team could refile the case in Texas and seek an injunction.
if the suspension goes through, Elliott will miss games against the San
Francisco 49ers, Redskins, Kansas City Chiefs, Atlanta Falcons,
Philadelphia Eagles and Chargers.
The Cowboys declined to comment “at this time” through a spokesman.
The ruling came after oral arguments were conducted last week in New Orleans before a three-judge panel of the court.
league concluded after a lengthy investigation that Elliott was guilty
of violence in a series of incidents last year involving his former
girlfriend. Authorities in Columbus, Ohio, did not charge Elliott with a
crime. League-appointed arbitrator Harold Henderson rejected the NFL
Players Association’s appeal on Elliott’s behalf and upheld the
suspension imposed by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell under the sport’s
personal conduct policy.
The NFLPA took its challenge to federal
court in Texas. U.S. District Judge Amos L. Mazzant granted the NFLPA’s
request for a preliminary injunction. Mazzant ruled that Elliott did not
receive a fair appeal hearing before Henderson, in large part because
Elliott’s accuser and Goodell did not testify.