The contentious back-and-forth between the NFL and Ezekiel Elliott about Elliott’s six-game suspension is over. Elliott announced on Wednesday that he would drop all remaining appeals and serve the full six-game suspension.
Big news: #Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott is withdrawing his appeal, his agents Rocky Arceneaux and Frank Salzano tell me. Elliott will serve his full 6-game suspension. The statement: pic.twitter.com/BV3jPyX4ap— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) November 15, 2017
Last week, the 2nd Circuit Court denied the NFLPA’s motion for an emergency injunction while also lifting the stay that kept Elliott on the field in Week 9. His suspension began in Week 10, when the Cowboys lost a 27-7 road game against the Atlanta Falcons.
Elliott’s next appeal in federal court had been scheduled for Dec. 1, after Elliott would have already sat out four games. By accepting his suspension, Elliott will officially return to the Cowboys on Christmas Eve, when they take on the Seahawks in Dallas.
What led to this? Roger Goodell issued the six-game suspension for domestic violence allegations levied against Elliott by a former girlfriend in July 2016. Six games is the baseline for a first-time domestic violence offender. Goodell imposed the discipline after the NFL conducted a year-long investigation into the allegations. Elliott, who has always denied the allegations, appealed.
NFL arbitrator Harold Henderson upheld the suspension, but Elliott’s suspension was on hold, then back on numerous times while the battle played out in court. It wasn’t until last week when the suspension, which was handed down in August, finally began.
Is it over? It appears so. The NFLPA, which filed a lawsuit on Elliott’s behalf in August, could have continued to fight the NFL in court.
Instead, the union said in a strongly worded statement that it was withdrawing its lawsuit:
"On behalf of all players, the Union appealed the suspension of Ezekiel Elliott to its logical conclusion and we are withdrawing our lawsuit,” the statement read.
“Our vigilant fight on behalf of Ezekiel once again exposed the NFL's disciplinary process as a sham and a lie. They hired several former federal prosecutors, brought in ‘experts’ and imposed a process with the stated goal of 'getting it right,' yet the management council refuses to step in and stop repeated manipulation of an already awful League-imposed system."
The NFLPA’s contention with the NFL was never about Elliott’s guilt or innocence, but rather the issue was over Goodell’s authority under the current collective bargaining agreement. But that battle will have to wait, perhaps until the current CBA expires in 2021.
Now, Elliott’s status is finally settled. He won’t be eligible to return until Week 16 against the Seahawks.