On Thursday, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the NFL in a case that reinstated Ezekiel Elliott’s six-game suspension. As expected, the NFL Players Association and Elliott’s representative are striking back. The NFLPA will file motion for an en banc hearing with the 5th Circuit, according to Daniel Wallach.
What does an en banc hearing mean? If it’s granted, an en banc hearing will put this motion in front of all of the court’s judges as opposed to a small panel. If that happens, Elliott can continue to play until the court has a decision.
One reason why an En Banc hearing in front of 5th circuit is a strong option: It keeps the preliminary injunction in place for Zeke Elliott.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) October 12, 2017
What led up to this? The NFL issued Elliott the six-game suspension after a year-long investigation into domestic violence allegations raised against him in July 2016 by a former girlfriend. Elliott denies the allegations. The NFL’s investigators determined that there was credible evidence that Elliott was physically violent toward the woman on three occasions. The six-game suspension is the NFL’s baseline number for a first-time domestic violence offenders.
Elliott appealed the ruling, and the NFL’s arbitrator, Harold Henderson, upheld the suspension. The NFLPA and Elliott’s attorney’s filed a lawsuit against the NFL in a Texas district court before Henderson’s ruling was announced.
A panel of three judges overturned an emergency injunction that had been granted to Elliott by Judge Amos Mazzant at the district court level. That injunction kept Elliott on the field and put his suspension on hold until the court case was complete.
It was a 2-1 split decision from the three judges. The dissenting judge wrote in his decision that the NFL’s investigation and disciplinary process is “arguably unfair,” according to Gabe Feldman, the director of Tulane University’s sports law program. The other two judges ruled in favor of the league because Elliott’s attorneys filed the initial lawsuit before the NFL’s appeals process was complete.
It is, essentially, a labor issue that is at the crux of this battle in the courts, not whether Elliott is innocent or guilty.
What’s next? If Elliott’s motion for an en banc hearing is granted, he’ll be able to play until the full slate of judges rules on this motion. If it’s denied, there are still other options available to Elliott and the NFLPA.
Tom Brady sought an en banc hearing after an appellate court reinstated his suspension. His motion was denied.
The most likely outcome is probably starting fresh and filing for a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction in New York, or they can file that again in Texas.