Cowboys’ Elliott Catches Yet Another Reprieve in Fight Against NFL Suspension
South District of New York Judge Paul Crotty granted a temporary restraining order (TRO) on Tuesday, October 16, 2017, blocking the NFL’s suspension of Dallas Cowboys’ star Ezekiel Elliott, pending a hearing before the presiding judge, Katherine Polk Failla, who is on vacation. Judge Crotty’s ruling that “irreparable harm” would be caused if Elliott served the suspension comes only five days after the Fifth Circuit had overturned the first injunction, issued by a Texas court, which had frozen Elliott’s suspension. The Fifth Circuit had ruled that the Texas court did not have jurisdiction because initial injunction filed by Elliott was premature. This meant the remedies of the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between Elliott and the NFL had not been exhausted. NFL Network legal analyst Gabe Feldman commented, “[w]e have seen the NFL go to great lengths in court to affirm and strengthen and maintain they believe in what they collectively bargained for… [The NFL] doesn’t want precedent out there that says a court can interfere with the commissioner’s decision or with an arbitrator’s decision.”
The TRO is in effect for 14 days, or until a hearing on the motion for a preliminary injunction goes in front of Judge Failla. So, while Elliott has not scored an ultimate dissolution of the suspension, he has still gained some yardage. He had managed to stave off his suspension long enough to play each game so far this season, and he is now eligible to play this weekend against the 49ers and against the Redskins in Week 8.
The NFL’s attorney accused Elliott’s legal team of filing their original suit in Texas, rather than New York, because they wanted to avoid the effect of New York’s April 2016 ruling that reinstated Tom Brady’s suspension in the “Deflategate” scandal. The issue in that case had largely boiled down to the CBA-sanctioned powers granted to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell in the appeals process. Once the Fifth Circuit vacated the injunction, Elliott had been forced to take his fight to the NFL-favorable New York courts. Still, NFL Players’ Association attorney Jeffrey Kessler indicated Elliott has not yet given up on his request that the 5th Circuit rethink its decision, saying “it’s still a possibility…things are moving so quickly.”