Is Ezekiel Elliott’s Suspension Finally Going to be Enforced After Appellate Court Sides with NFL?

The latest motion in the legal battle over Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension has been decided. The Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals cleared the way for the NFL to enforce a six-game suspension on Dallas Cowboys star Ezekiel Elliott over domestic violence accusations, siding with the league in the most recent high-profile fight over its ability to penalize players for off-field behavior. Specifically, the Fifth Circuit, in a 2-1 opinion, granted a stay for the injunction that was postponing Elliott’s six-game suspension. The majority ruled that the NFL Players Association moved too quickly in filing the case challenging Elliott’s six-game suspension before an arbitrator even issued his decision. The majority opinion stated, “Elliott cannot show it was futile to wait for a final decision simply because he believed the arbitrator would issue an unfavorable ruling. As there was no final decision, Elliott had not yet exhausted the contracted-for remedies.”

Since the decision was handed down by the Fifth Circuit, the NFL released the following statement reinstating Elliott’s six-game suspension: “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 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. Elliott is eligible to return to the team Friday, November 24 following the Cowboys’ Thursday, November 23 game against the Los Angeles Chargers.” However, Elliott’s legal team is still deciding what their next step is, stating “we are currently exploring all of our legal options and will make a decision as to what is the best course of action in the next few days.”

Elliott was suspended by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in August after the League concluded that he has several physical confrontations last summer with his former girlfriend. However, prosecutors in Columbus, Ohio decided about a year ago not to pursue the case citing conflicting evidence. The NFL conducted its own investigation, and based its decision on photographs, text messages, and other electronic evidence. The league maintains that it acted within the limits of a labor agreement that gives Goodell the broad discretion to suspend players.

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