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Ezekiel Elliott suspension: Next stage in legal fight imminent

Thomas Barrabi

The ongoing legal battle over Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott’s six-game suspension enters its next stage on Friday, when U.S. District Judge Amos Mazzant is expected to decide whether to issue a temporary stay that would block the NFL’s penalty from taking effect.

Mazzant said earlier this week that he would decide by 6 p.m. ET whether to grant the NFL Players Association’s request for a temporary restraining order (TRO) on Elliott’s suspension, which would allow the Cowboys star to play in Week 2 and beyond until the court can hold another hearing on whether to grant a more lasting preliminary injunction on the suspension.

“A preliminary injunction would be a game-changer. If issued, a preliminary injunction could conceivably last the entire 2017 season,” Sports Illustrated legal analyst Michael McCann wrote in a recent post on the situation.

In other words, Elliott could potentially play the entire 2017 season without serving a suspension as the legal process unfolds. At present, Elliott is set to be suspended without pay from Week 2 through Week 8 after Henderson sided with the NFL on Tuesday and upheld the initial ruling.

In filing for a TRO, the NFLPA argued that NFL officials oversaw a “fundamentally unfair” appeal process, withholding key information that could have exonerated Elliott. The NFL responded with a motion to dismiss the NFLPA’s request, asserting that union lawyers improperly sued to block the suspension before Harold Henderson, the arbitrator during the appeal process, could issue a ruling.

Even if Mazzant denies the request for TRO, Elliott and his team appear poised to continue their legal fight with further appeals. Moments after Henderson upheld the suspension, Elliott’s lawyers said he “is looking forward to having his day in federal court where the playing field will be level and the NFL will have to answer for its unfair and unjust practices.”

Elliott was suspended last month after a year-long NFL investigation into allegations that he physically assaulted his ex-girlfriend Tiffany Thompson on multiple occasions in July 2016. The 22-year-old running back was never arrested or charged with a crime and has vehemently denied the claims.

Regardless of what happens in court on Friday, Elliott will play on Sunday in the Cowboys’ Week 1 matchup with the New York Giants. 

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