The on again, off again suspension of the Cowboys’ star runner is back on thanks to a federal appeals court.
It’s possible to hand the NFL a temporary defeat in court, as Ezkiel Elliott and the NFLPA did not too long ago by getting the Dallas Cowboys running back’s six-game suspension for domestic violence allegations set aside for the beginning of the 2017 NFL season.
But the NFL in court is very much like the house in blackjack: in the long run, it always wins. That appears to be the case once again today.
NFL.com reports that a federal appeals court has reinstated Elliott’s six-game suspension by overturning the original court’s decision on the grounds that it did not have subject matter jurisdiction. In layman’s terms, the appeals court decided that the NFLPA and Elliott acted too quickly to file suit over the suspension, which was still being considered by an arbitrator at the time.
“At the time the NFLPA filed the complaint, it was possible the arbitrator could have issued a final decision that was favorable to Elliott. 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.
“The District Court, therefore, lacked subject matter jurisdiction when it issued the preliminary injunction.”
Yet even after all of this legal back and forth, the matter isn’t settled, and it’s possible Elliott might not miss any games since the Cowboys are on their bye this week. The NFL.com story also notes that the NFLPA’s next move will probably be to re-file its case in U.S. District Court, asking for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction in Elliott’s favor —the same legal remedies that allowed the running back to play in every game for Dallas so far this season.
That means that while Elliott could end up serving his full six-game suspension in 2017, it’s also possible he never serves any of it. The risk for the Cowboys now is one of timing. At 2-3, they’re still alive in the playoff hunt, but losing Elliott for the stretch run of this campaign could be devastating.
For fans of America’s team, there’s nothing to do now except wait for more news from the courts — and maybe keep brushing up on legal jargon in the meantime.