NFL seeks quick ac­tion to get Elliott sus­pen­sion re­in­stated

The Telegram (St. John’s) - - SPORTS - BY SCHUYLER DIXON

“… the six-game sus­pen­sion ap­proved by the ar­bi­tra­tor will ul­ti­mately stand, and no one’s in­ter­ests are served by de­lay­ing that dis­ci­pline based on a mis­guided or­der by a dis­trict court that lacked ju­ris­dic­tion.”

From the NFL’S emer­gency mo­tion in fed­eral ap­peals court

The NFL filed an emer­gency mo­tion in fed­eral ap­peals court Fri­day, hop­ing to get a swift rul­ing on its re­quest to over­rule a judge who blocked a six-game sus­pen­sion for star Dal­las Cow­boys run­ning back Ezekiel Elliott in a do­mes­tic vi­o­lence case in Ohio.

The league filed its re­quest with the 5th U.S. Cir­cuit Court of Ap­peals in New Or­leans, even though a fed­eral judge in Texas hasn’t ruled on a re­quest to put the in­junc­tion on hold while an ap­peal is pur­sued. The emer­gency mo­tion asks the court to rule on the re­quest to sus­pend U.S. Dis­trict Judge Amos Maz­zant’s in­junc­tion as early as Tues­day, the start of the prac­tice week be­fore the Cow­boys’ third game of the sea­son against Ari­zona.

If the rul­ing isn’t made by Tues­day, the NFL is ask­ing for a de­ci­sion by Sept. 26, the start of prac­tice be­fore Dal­las’ Week 4 home game against the Los Angeles Rams.

Elliott had al­ready been cleared to play in a 19-3 win over the New York Gi­ants in the sea­son opener be­fore Maz­zant granted his re­quest for an in­junc­tion. Last year’s NFL rush­ing leader will play Sun­day at Denver un­der Maz­zant’s rul­ing.

The 22-year-old Elliott was sus­pended by Com­mis­sioner Roger Good­ell in Au­gust af­ter the league con­cluded fol­low­ing a year­long in­ves­ti­ga­tion that he had sev­eral phys­i­cal con­fronta­tions last sum­mer in Ohio with his girl­friend at the time. The NFL play­ers’ union sued on Elliott’s be­half.

In its emer­gency mo­tion, the NFL re­it­er­ated pre­vi­ous ar­gu­ments that Elliott’s at­tor­neys sued pre­ma­turely be­cause ar­bi­tra­tor Harold Hen­der­son had yet to rule on the run­ning back’s ap­peal of the sus­pen­sion. The ap­peal was de­nied the same day as ar­gu­ments over the re­quest for an in­junc­tion from Maz­zant in Sher­man, Texas, about 65 miles north of Dal­las.

The NFL ul­ti­mately wants to get the case moved from Texas to the South­ern Dis­trict of New York. That was the venue for the league’s suc­cess­ful ap­peal af­ter a fed­eral judge had over­turned New Eng­land quar­ter­back Tom Brady’s fourgame sus­pen­sion in the “De­flate­gate’’ case.

The NFL con­tends Maz­zant’s rul­ing was an un­nec­es­sary in­ter­fer­ence in the league’s labour deal with the play­ers.

“Put dif­fer­ently, the six-game sus­pen­sion ap­proved by the ar­bi­tra­tor will ul­ti­mately stand, and no one’s in­ter­ests are served by de­lay­ing that dis­ci­pline based on a mis­guided or­der by a dis­trict court that lacked ju­ris­dic­tion,’’ the NFL wrote in its mo­tion.

Maz­zant’s rul­ing took aim at Hen­der­son and the NFL, say­ing de­ci­sions not to al­low Good­ell and Tiffany Thomp­son, the ex-girl­friend, to tes­tify at the ap­peal were among sev­eral fac­tors un­fair to Elliott. The NFL has main­tained that it fol­lowed all pro­ce­dures for dis­ci­pline in the col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing agree­ment.

Three years ago, the NFL stiff­ened its do­mes­tic vi­o­lence pol­icy with the six-game stan­dard and more in­ves­tiga­tive power. The changes came af­ter the league was sharply crit­i­cized for its han­dling of a do­mes­tic in­ci­dent in­volv­ing for­mer Bal­ti­more run­ning back Ray Rice.

Ac­cord­ing to the let­ter Elliott re­ceived in­form­ing him of the sus­pen­sion last month, the NFL be­lieved he used “phys­i­cal force’’ three times in a span of five days in a Colum­bus, Ohio, apart­ment last July re­sult­ing in in­juries to Thomp­son’s face, neck, shoul­ders, arms, hands, wrists, hips and knees. Pros­e­cu­tors in Colum­bus de­cided about a year ago not to pur­sue the case in the city where Elliott starred for Ohio State, but the NFL kept the in­ves­ti­ga­tion open. The league said its con­clu­sions were based on pho­to­graphs, text mes­sages and other elec­tronic ev­i­dence.

AP PHOTO In this file photo from last Sun­day, Dal­las Cow­boys run­ning back Ezekiel Elliott warms up be­fore an NFL foot­ball game against the New York Gi­ants Ar­ling­ton, Texas. The NFL is ask­ing a fed­eral ap­peals court to move quickly on its re­quest to over­rule a judge’s in­junc­tion that blocked a six-game sus­pen­sion for the Cow­boys’ star run­ning back.

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