Court clears way for 6-game sus­pen­sion of Cow­boys’ El­liott

The Reporter (Lansdale, PA) - - SPORTS - By Schuyler Dixon

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

The case may not be done yet and fur­ther ap­peals were pos­si­ble. One of El­liott’s rep­re­sen­ta­tives didn’t im­me­di­ately re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment.

A fed­eral judge in Texas had is­sued an in­junc­tion that blocked 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 Cow­boys have a bye this week­end.

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 will be­gin Oct. 22 at San Fran­cisco. El­liott played the first five games while the case was in the courts.

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. Pros­e­cu­tors in Colum­bus, Ohio, de­cided not to pur­sue the case in the city where El­liott starred for Ohio State, cit­ing con­flict­ing ev­i­dence.

Last year’s NFL rush­ing leader as a rookie, El­liott’s le­gal team filed the law­suit on his be­half in the East­ern District of Texas be­fore Hen­der­son had re­jected the ap­peal.

The NFL had al­ready agreed to let El­liott play in the opener be­fore El­liott’s re­quest for an in­junc­tion was granted by U.S. District Judge Amos Maz­zant in Sher­man, north of Dal­las. Hen­der­son ruled against El­liott the same day Maz­zant heard ar­gu­ments over the in­junc­tion.

The NFL filed in the New York court be­cause it is the home of league head­quar­ters and was the site of El­liott’s ap­peal hear­ing with Hen­der­son.

The league won the “De­flate­gate” de­ci­sion in the New York court, lead­ing to New Eng­land quar­ter­back Tom Brady serv­ing his fourgame sus­pen­sion a year af­ter it was orig­i­nally im­posed. A fed­eral judge had put Brady’s sus­pen­sion on hold.

In the El­liott case, league at­tor­neys wrote to the 5th Cir­cuit that the union’s law­suit had re­sulted in “hope­lessly doomed pro­ceed­ings” that shouldn’t con­tinue.

The NFLPA has ar­gued that Maz­zant had ju­ris­dic­tion be­cause El­liott ex­hausted his ap­peal be­fore fil­ing the law­suit when Hen­der­son re­jected re­quests for the tes­ti­mony of Good­ell and Thomp­son. El­liott’s at­tor­neys also say the NFL vi­o­lated the la­bor deal by with­hold­ing key in­for­ma­tion from Good­ell and El­liott’s rep­re­sen­ta­tives.


A fed­eral ap­peals court on Thurs­day has lifted an in­junc­tion that blocked a six-game sus­pen­sion for Ezekiel El­liott, clear­ing the way for the NFL’s pun­ish­ment over do­mes­tic vi­o­lence al­le­ga­tions and likely lead­ing to the run­ning back’s le­gal team...

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