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NFLPA’s emergency appeal to delay Ezekiel Elliott’s 6-game suspension denied

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Elliott should start his suspension this week.

Los Angeles Rams v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

The New York Southern District Court weighed the NFLPA’s emergency appeal of its decision to deny an injunction that would allow Ezekiel Elliott to keep playing. The court sided with the league, and his suspension remains in effect, according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero.

The union has filed an appeal to 2nd Circuit Court and would like a decision by the end of the week:

The judge ruled that the NFLPA “failed to demonstrate a substantial question on the merits and a balance of hardships tipping decidedly in its favor.”

“For the court to grant the NFLPA’s motion for a stay at this stage would, in effect, be to reverse its decision of last evening denying the NFLPA’s motion for injunctive relief,” Judge Katherine Polk Failla wrote in her decision, a portion of which was obtained by ESPN’s Josina Anderson.

Failla ruled on Tuesday 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.” She denied the union’s motion for an injunction that would delay Elliott’s suspension while the appeals process continues. But the court issued a 24-hour stay on the decision to allow the NFLPA time to file an emergency appeal.

This ruling upholds the original decision. Unless the 2nd Circuit Court grants an emergency stay, which is considered a long shot, Elliott will not be on the field this Sunday when the Cowboys face the Chiefs. He is not eligible to return until Week 15 against the Raiders.

What led up to this? Elliott was handed a six-game suspension by the NFL after a year-long investigation into domestic violence allegations raised against him by a former girlfriend. Elliott was not charged, but the league’s policy and investigative process doesn’t carry the same burden of proof as the legal system.

Goodell issued the six-game suspension, which is the baseline number for a first-time offender in the NFL. Elliott appealed, and the NFL’s arbitrator, Harold Henderson, upheld Goodell’s decision. Elliott and his representatives filed a lawsuit with a district court in Texas challenging the ruling, but they filed suit before the NFL’s arbitrator issued his decision on the appeal.

Judge Amos Mazzant granted a preliminary injunction that allowed Elliott to play until the resolution of the lawsuit. The 5th Circuit Court overturned it in a split decision, citing the lower court’s lack of subject-matter jurisdiction because Elliott’s camp filed before the arbitrator ruled on his NFL appeal.

The NFL filed an appeal with the 5th Circuit Court, and a panel of three judges overturned the injunction and ordered the lower court to drop the case. Elliott and the NFLPA re-filed in the New York Southern District Court, which initially granted a temporary restraining order to keep Elliott on the field.

A temporary restraining order is only good for 14 days, and the court ruled on Oct. 30 to deny an injunction that would effectively lift the suspension until the court case is resolved. Now that decision has been upheld despite the NFLPA’s appeal.

What happens next? The NFLPA is still trying to fight the suspension, though at this point it faces long odds. In her decision to deny the injunction, Judge Failla wrote that the NFLPA’s assertions that the NFL’s disciplinary process was fundamentally unfair were invalid. The NFL can use that as ammunition in whatever the NFLPA tries next.

There’s a possibility that the two sides could come to a settlement agreement. Elliott could also just let it go and serve his suspension while it plays out out in the courts, but particularly because the case law here can dramatically impact player discipline going forward, the NFLPA is unlikely to let that happen.