Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension is back on. The New York Southern District Court has denied Elliott a preliminary injunction, which means his six-game suspension is no longer on hold, according to Kate Hairopoulos of the Dallas Morning News.
The NFLPA appealed and has asked the court to issue a decision by 7 p.m. ET on Wednesday. It would be a surprise for the judge to overturn her own ruling. If she upholds the suspension, the union plans to appeal to the 2nd Circuit Court, according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero.
Judge Katherine Polk Failla wrote in her decision, which was obtained by ESPN’s Josina Anderson, that the NFLPA had “failed to demonstrate a substantial question warranting the extraordinary remedy of injunctive relief or a balance of hardships that decidedly weighs in its favor.”
Judge Failla also ruled that the NFLPA’s assertion that senior NFL executives concealed the lead investigator’s perspective on Elliott’s accuser were not valid.
The union’s other assertion was that the process was fundamentally unfair because Elliott’s side had been deprived of the ability to question Elliott’s accuser or Roger Goodell at Elliott’s NFL appeal. Judge Failla said in her decision that the NFL’s arbitrator had no authority under the collective bargaining agreement to compel either Elliott’s accuser or Roger Goodell to testify at Elliott’s appeal.
The court placed a stay on the execution of the order until Tuesday to give the NFLPA an opportunity to file an emergency appeal of the decision, per Michael McCann of Sports Illustrated. There’s still a chance the court could reverse its decision on appeal.
Elliott attended the hearing on Monday where both the NFL and NFLPA argued before Judge Katherine Failla. He told reporters after the Cowboys’ win over Washington on Sunday that he trusted his legal team to keep him on the field, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
Why was his suspension on hold in the first place? Two weeks ago, the same court gave Elliott a temporary restraining order (TRO) that allowed him to keep playing until Judge Failla, who was assigned to the case, returned from vacation and could evaluate the NFLPA’s motion for a preliminary injunction.
Elliott previously was granted a preliminary injunction by a federal judge in the District Court of Eastern Texas in September. Judge Amos Mazzano asserted that the NFL’s investigation and disciplinary process was clouded by “fundamental unfairness.”
The NFL appealed that decision to a higher court. A panel of three judges with the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans overturned the injunction in a split decision and ordered the lower court to dismiss the case due to a lack of jurisdiction.
Elliott’s representatives re-filed the suit in New York, which has jurisdiction based on where the NFL is headquartered. That court gave Elliott the TRO while both sides awaited a decision on the preliminary injunction. Now that decision has come, and Elliott’s suspension is in effect.
What led up to this? Elliott was issued a six-game suspension after the NFL concluded a year-long investigation into domestic violence allegations raised against him by a former girlfriend in July 2016. The league determined that Elliott had been physically violent toward the woman on three occasions. Elliott has denied the allegations and was never arrested or charged with a crime.
A six-game suspension is the NFL’s baseline for a first-time domestic violence offender. Elliott appealed the league’s decision. At the same time, Elliott’s representatives also filed a lawsuit with the District Court of Eastern Texas to vacate the results from the appeal process.
His punishment was upheld by the NFL’s arbitrator, Harold Henderson, but Elliott and the NFLPA have continued to fight the suspension in courts.
What’s the most likely outcome? The NFLPA will file an emergency appeal. But Elliott is running out of options here.
His side can also ask for an en banc hearing with the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, which would have the matter heard by all of the 5th Circuit judges. He could also just serve his suspension and let this go, but that’s unlikely.
The two sides have reportedly been working toward a settlement, which would probably involve a reduced suspension for Elliott. But things remain contentious between the league and the NFLPA, which may be an obstacle.
Unless the court overturns its own decision, Elliott’s six-game suspension will take effect now. He’ll be slated to return for the Cowboys’ Week 15 matchup against the Oakland Raiders on Dec. 17.