Court re­in­states RB Ezekiel El­liott’s ban, keep­ing Dal­las star out for six games.

The Washington Post - - SPORTS - BY MARK MASKE mark.maske@wash­

The NFL’s six-game sus­pen­sion of Dal­las Cow­boys run­ning back Ezekiel El­liott stem­ming from do­mes­tic vi­o­lence al­le­ga­tions was re­in­stated by a fed­eral ap­peals court Thurs­day.

The U.S. Court of Ap­peals for the 5th Cir­cuit granted the league’s re­quest for an emer­gency stay of the in­junc­tion that was is­sued by a fed­eral judge to keep El­liott’s sus­pen­sion on hold while his case pro­ceeds in court.

The NFL said it would en­force El­liott’s sus­pen­sion be­gin­ning im­me­di­ately. If that stands, El­liott would be el­i­gi­ble to re­turn to the Cow­boys on Nov. 24, the league said, which is the day af­ter their game against the Los An­ge­les Charg­ers.

“Ear­lier to­day, the Fifth Cir­cuit Court of Ap­peals va­cated the pre­lim­i­nary in­junc­tion that pro­hib­ited the league from im­pos­ing the six-game sus­pen­sion is­sued to Ezekiel El­liott for a vi­o­la­tion of the Per­sonal Con­duct Pol­icy,” the league said in a writ­ten state­ment. “The Court also di­rected the district court to dis­miss the union’s law­suit which was filed on El­liott’s be­half. As a re­sult, El­liott’s sus­pen­sion will be­gin ef­fec­tive im­me­di­ately.”

The Cow­boys, who have a record of 2-3, are on their bye week. They next play Oct. 22 at San Fran­cisco.

El­liott will miss games against the San Fran­cisco 49ers, Wash­ing­ton Red­skins, Kansas City Chiefs, At­lanta Fal­cons, Philadel­phia Ea­gles and Charg­ers. He will be el­i­gi­ble to re­turn for Dal­las’s Nov. 30 game against the Red­skins.

The Cow­boys de­clined to com­ment “at this time” through a spokesman.

The rul­ing came af­ter oral ar­gu­ments were con­ducted last week in New Or­leans be­fore a three-judge panel of the court.

The ap­peals court judges voted, 2-1, to grant the NFL’s re­quest to lift the in­junc­tion. The league had ar­gued that the district court in Texas that granted the in­junc­tion did not have proper ju­ris­dic­tion be­cause the play­ers’ union filed its case on El­liott’s be­half be­fore his ap­peal was com­pleted. Two of the three ap­peals court judges agreed with that. The dis­sent­ing judge ruled that there could be merit to El­liott’s claim that the NFL’s ap­peal process was not fair.

The union and El­liott’s at­tor­neys could ap­peal the rul­ing of the three-judge panel to the en­tire ap­peals court. They could at­tempt to put the sus­pen­sion back on hold by seek­ing an in­junc­tion or tem­po­rary re­strain­ing or­der in fed­eral court in New York, where the NFL filed a law­suit at­tempt­ing to af­firm the ar­bi­tra­tion de­ci­sion that up­held the sus­pen­sion. Or El­liott’s le­gal team could re­file the case in Texas and seek an in­junc­tion.

The union said in a writ­ten state­ment: “The NFLPA is re­view­ing the de­ci­sion and con­sid­er­ing all op­tions. The ap­pel­late court de­ci­sion fo­cuses on the ju­ris­dic­tional is­sues. The fail­ures of due process by the NFL ar­tic­u­lated in the District Court’s de­ci­sion were not ad­dressed.”

The league con­cluded af­ter a lengthy in­ves­ti­ga­tion that El­liott was guilty of vi­o­lence in a se­ries of in­ci­dents last year in­volv­ing his for­mer girl­friend. Au­thor­i­ties in Colum­bus, Ohio, did not charge El­liott with a crime. League-ap­pointed ar­bi­tra­tor Harold Hen­der­son re­jected the NFL Play­ers As­so­ci­a­tion’s ap­peal on El­liott’s be­half and up­held the sus­pen­sion im­posed by NFL Com­mis­sioner Roger Good­ell un­der the sport’s per­sonal con­duct pol­icy.

The NFLPA took its chal­lenge to fed­eral court in Texas. U.S. District Judge Amos L. Maz­zant granted the NFLPA’s re­quest for a pre­lim­i­nary in­junc­tion. Maz­zant ruled that El­liott did not re­ceive a fair ap­peal hear­ing be­fore Hen­der­son, in large part be­cause El­liott’s ac­cuser and Good­ell did not tes­tify.

The NFL, main­tain­ing that it ad­hered prop­erly to the league’s dis­ci­plinary pro­ce­dures, quickly sought the in­ter­ven­tion of the New Or­leans-based ap­peals court.

The NFL pre­vi­ously pre­vailed at the ap­pel­late level in cases in­volv­ing Adrian Peter­son and Tom Brady in which the NFLPA chal­lenged dis­ci­plinary mea­sures and scored vic­to­ries at the district court level.

In Brady’s case, his four-game sus­pen­sion for his al­leged role in the De­flate­gate scan­dal was en­forced at the out­set of last sea­son af­ter he played the en­tire 2015 sea­son based on a rul­ing by a fed­eral judge.

El­liott, the league’s lead­ing rusher last sea­son as a rookie, has to­taled 393 rush­ing yards in five games this sea­son.


The NFL said it would en­force Ezekiel El­liott’s six-game sus­pen­sion be­gin­ning im­me­di­ately. He will be el­i­gi­ble to re­turn Nov. 24.

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