League can sus­pend El­liott

The Oklahoman - - SPORTS -

A fed­eral ap­peals court cleared the way Thurs­day for the NFL to im­pose a six-game sus­pen­sion on Dal­las Cow­boys star Ezekiel El­liott over do­mes­tic vi­o­lence al­le­ga­tions, sid­ing with the league in the lat­est high-pro­file fight over its abil­ity to pun­ish play­ers for off-field be­hav­ior.

A fed­eral ap­peals court cleared the way Thurs­day for the NFL to im­pose a sixgame sus­pen­sion on Dal­las Cow­boys star Ezekiel El­liott over do­mes­tic vi­o­lence al­le­ga­tions, sid­ing with the league in the lat­est high­pro­file fight over its abil­ity to pun­ish play­ers for offfield be­hav­ior.

In a 2-1 de­ci­sion, the 5th U.S. Cir­cuit Court of Ap­peals panel in New Or­leans granted the league's emer­gency re­quest to set aside an in­junc­tion and or­dered a district court in Texas to dis­miss El­liott's case.

Fur­ther ap­peals were pos­si­ble. One of El­liott's rep­re­sen­ta­tives didn't im­me­di­ately re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment.

A fed­eral judge in Texas is­sued the in­junc­tion block­ing the sus­pen­sion last month, agree­ing with NFL play­ers' union at­tor­neys who ar­gued that the in­ves­ti­ga­tion of the al­le­ga­tions in Ohio and a sub­se­quent ap­peal were un­fair to El­liott, one of the league's stand­out run­ning backs.

The NFL coun­tered that it fol­lowed pro­ce­dures un­der the league's la­bor deal and that the union im­prop­erly filed a law­suit be­fore the ap­peals process was com­plete.

The most likely des­ti­na­tion for fur­ther le­gal chal­lenges from play­ers' union at­tor­neys rep­re­sent­ing El­liott is with the South­ern District of New York. The NFL filed in that fed­eral court af­ter El­liott's NFL ap­peal was de­nied by ar­bi­tra­tor Harold Hen­der­son last month.

If El­liott's le­gal team can't put the sus­pen­sion on hold again, it can be­gin Oct. 22 at San Fran­cisco and El­liott won't be el­i­gi­ble to play un­til Nov. 30 at home against Wash­ing­ton, a Thurs­day night game the week af­ter Thanks­giv­ing. El­liott played the first five games. The Cow­boys are not play­ing this week­end.

Last year's NFL rush­ing leader as a rookie, El­liott was sus­pended in Au­gust by Com­mis­sioner Roger Good­ell af­ter the league con­cluded fol­low­ing a year­long in­ves­ti­ga­tion that he had sev­eral phys­i­cal con­fronta­tions in the sum­mer of 2016 with Tif­fany Thomp­son, his girl­friend at the time.

Raiders-Charg­ers game may be af­fected by wild­fires

The NFL is keep­ing an eye on the wild­fires in North­ern Cal­i­for­nia and has been ex­plor­ing op­tions to move Sun­day's game between the Oakland Raiders and Los An­ge­les Charg­ers if it be­comes nec­es­sary.

Michael Sig­nora, the NFL's vice pres­i­dent of foot­ball com­mu­ni­ca­tions, said Thurs­day that the league is get­ting up­dates on the sit­u­a­tion from both teams and from city of­fi­cials in Oakland.

"We con­tinue to mon­i­tor air qual­ity con­di­tions in the Bay Area and are in close com­mu­ni­ca­tion with both the Raiders and Charg­ers, as well as lo­cal au­thor­i­ties," Sig­nora said. "At this point, the game re­mains sched­uled for Sun­day in Oakland."

At least 26 peo­ple have died and some 3,500 homes and busi­nesses have been de­stroyed by the blazes, which be­gan in Cal­i­for­nia wine coun­try Sun­day. An es­ti­mated 25,000 peo­ple have been driven from their homes.

Oakland, which is some 45 miles south of the fires, has been blan­keted by smoke.

If the NFL de­cides that con­di­tions in Oakland are too un­healthy to play Sun­day, the Raiders game could be moved to Levi's Sta­dium in Santa Clara. San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer has also of­fered up Qual­comm Sta­dium, where the Charg­ers used to play be­fore re­lo­cat­ing to Los An­ge­les this year.

The fires aren't far from Napa, where the Raiders have held train­ing camp since 1996, one year af­ter late owner Al Davis moved the team back to Oakland from Los An­ge­les.

The smoky con­di­tions have forced the Raiders to al­ter their out­door sched­ule this week. Prac­tice times have been changed to limit the ef­fect on the play­ers.

"We've done our best to stay as in-rou­tine as we can," of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Todd Down­ing said. "Coach (Jack Del Rio) has done an awe­some job of ad­just­ing where he's needed to but we feel like we're putting to­gether a good week of prep."

Ben­gals TE Tyler Eifert out for sea­son

Ben­gals tight end Tyler Eifert will miss the rest of the sea­son with a back in­jury that has put his ca­reer in jeop­ardy.

The fifth-year vet­eran missed half of last sea­son with an­kle and back in­juries.

He had surgery on a disc in his back last De­cem­ber. He ag­gra­vated it in the sec­ond game this sea­son, forc­ing him to con­sider an­other pro­ce­dure. He's been in­ac­tive for the past three games and was put on in­jured re­serve Thurs­day.

The Ben­gals (2-3) are on their bye week. They re­sume with a game at Pitts­burgh (3-2) on Oct. 22.

The Ben­gals made him the 21st over­all choice in the 2013 draft, hop­ing his pass re­ceiv­ing skills would upgrade their of­fense. He's been one of Andy Dalton's fa­vorite tar­gets, es­pe­cially near the goal line, but has been se­verely lim­ited by in­juries in three of his five sea­sons.

He had his best sea­son in 2015, caching 52 passes for 615 yards and 13 touch­downs, a fran­chise record for a tight end.

He made the Pro Bowl that sea­son and tore a lig­a­ment in his an­kle dur­ing the game, re­quir­ing surgery. He re­turned and played in eight games, mak­ing 29 catches for 394 yards and five touch­downs, but an in­jured back disc ended the sea­son and re­sulted in more surgery.

He played in the first two games this sea­son and had four catches for 46 yards. He ag­gra­vated the back in the sec­ond game and came off the field. He wasn't able to prac­tice and was in­ac­tive for the past three games.

Landry crit­i­cal of fans lob­by­ing for Cut­ler's bench­ing

Mi­ami Dol­phins re­ceiver Jarvis Landry lashed out Thurs­day at fans who lob­bied for quar­ter­back Jay Cut­ler to be benched, say­ing they're an em­bar­rass­ment to play­ers.

Cut­ler drew jeers while strug­gling through much of the Dol­phins' 2017 home de­but Sun­day, be­fore his fourth-quar­ter touch­down pass to Landry helped beat the Ten­nessee Ti­tans 16-10.

The crowd chanted re­peat­edly for backup quar­ter­back Matt Moore.

"Jay is our quar­ter­back, and we stand by him," Landry said.

"We don't buy into the fans — 'Who do you want to play quar­ter­back?' I be­lieve it's dis­re­spect­ful. A man who comes out here and works his butt off, for peo­ple to not un­der­stand what's go­ing on, or not to have even touched the field be­fore ... They don't un­der­stand the sit­u­a­tion.

"It's em­bar­rass­ing as a player to have fans like that. It's em­bar­rass­ing."

Cut­ler threw for only 92 yards, although by coach Adam Gase's count he had five passes dropped. Cut­ler's passer rat­ing ranks 30th in the NFL, and the Dol­phins (2-2) have scored only three of­fen­sive touch­downs this sea­son.

They play at At­lanta on Sun­day.

[AP PHOTO]

A fed­eral ap­peals court cleared the way Thurs­day for the NFL to im­pose a six-game sus­pen­sion on Dal­las Cow­boys star Ezekiel El­liott over do­mes­tic vi­o­lence al­le­ga­tions.

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