A federal court in Texas ruled Friday to extend an injunction that will delay Ezekiel Elliott’s six-game suspension. Elliott is free and clear to take the field for the Cowboys until Judge Amos Mazzant issues a final ruling on Elliott’s pending lawsuit against the NFL. Elliott will likely play out the 2017 season.
The NFLPA filed for a restraining order or an injunction on the same day that it filed a federal lawsuit against the NFL. The suit challenges the way the NFL handled the investigation into domestic violence allegations levied against Elliott in July 2016. After an investigation that lasted over a year, Roger Goodell issued Elliott a six-game suspension. Elliott appealed the decision, but arbitrator Harold Henderson upheld the suspension Tuesday.
What does this ruling mean? Simply put, it means that Elliott can play until the court rules on the lawsuit and determines who wins. The NFL will likely try to file another appeal, but the injunction will keep Elliott on the field until the case is complete.
What’s the status of the court case? It’s ongoing. The NFL filed a motion to dismiss on Tuesday and asked that the lawsuit is moved from Texas to New York. The NFLPA filed a response shortly thereafter and amended it after Elliott’s suspension was upheld.
In its new filing Wednesday, the NFLPA said Henderson’s decision “does not change anything about the evidence of fundamental unfairness, irreparable harm, or balance of hardships,” according to documents obtained by the Dallas Morning News.
This contentious fight between the NFL and NFLPA could take a while.
Why did the court grant the restraining order? The NFLPA and Elliott’s attorneys filed the federal lawsuit before his appeal was decided. The suit alleges “there was a League-orchestrated conspiracy by senior NFL executives, including NFL Senior Vice President and Special Counsel for Investigations Lisa Friel, to hide critical information — which would completely exonerate Elliott.”
The NFL’s director of investigations, Kia Roberts, testified during Elliott’s appeal that she did not recommend a suspension for Elliott. Roberts interviewed Elliott’s accuser several times and did not find her to be credible. Roberts’ recommendation was not passed on to any of the independent advisors who were appointed to review the evidence, and it was withheld from Roger Goodell, who made the decision to suspend Elliott.
That was a key issue for Mazzanti, who said that withholding the data brought about an uncalled for the process:
The NFL‘s activities exhibit that from the earliest starting point of the basic leadership process, a billow of key injustice took after Elliott. Sadly, this cloud took after Elliott into the assertion procedures. The medication record demonstrates that the NFL, in any event, chose not to see to Roberts’ disagreeing feeling. This whole arrangement of conditions was placed before Henderson.
In his choice to maintain the suspension, Henderson said Goodell took care of the interest fittingly.
“Here the procedure for forcing discipline laid out in the Policy has been taken after nearly, well ordered,” Henderson said in an announcement, by means of Adam Schefter.
Notwithstanding, Judge Mazzant did not concur.
The inquiry under the steady gaze of the Court is unimportant whether Elliott got an on a very basic level reasonable hearing before the judge. The appropriate response is he didn’t. The Court finds, in view of the order standard, that Elliott was denied and in a general sense reasonable hearing by Henderson’s refusal to permit [the accuser] and Goodell to affirm at the mediation hearing.
The NFLPA discharged an emphatic articulation Friday after the declaration of the order:
Our statement on today’s ruling on the temporary restraining order in the Ezekiel Elliott case: pic.twitter.com/g46h7qh2GI
— NFLPA (@NFLPA) September 8, 2017
The current collective bargaining agreement will expire in 2021.
What happens next? The legal process will continue while the NFL and NFLPA keep battling. Right now, the NFL is still weighing its options on what to do next:
NFL statement on today’s decision pic.twitter.com/vVyLWgJRUV
— Brian McCarthy (@NFLprguy) September 8, 2017
And Elliott will remain on the field until the court has a decision.