Another chapter in the Ezekiel Elliott suspension saga was written Tuesday when a federal court in New York paved the way for him to rejoin the Dallas Cowboys.
The six-game suspension, which Elliott, a star running back, received after a yearlong investigation into a domestic violence allegation, has proved to be a particularly contentious issue between the N.F.L. and the league’s players’ association. Both sides have won legal victories, with the league coming out on top last week when a federal appeals court lifted an injunction that had blocked the suspension from going into effect.
But Judge Paul Crotty of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York granted a temporary restraining order on Tuesday that had been filed by the N.F.L. Players Association on Elliott’s behalf.
With the Cowboys off last week, the players’ association took its time preparing a strategy to get Elliott reinstated. But with Dallas preparing for a game on Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers, and Elliott barred from participating in team activities, they faced a ticking clock before the suspension became reality. The order, which demands the N.F.L. show cause before a presiding judge on or before Oct. 30, delays the suspension for now, which should allow Elliott to resume practicing with the team and to most likely play on Sunday.
The six-game suspension, which is the baseline suspension for a first-time domestic violence offender, was issued as a result of accusations made by a former girlfriend of Elliott’s in July 2016. Elliott was not arrested or charged by prosecutors, but the N.F.L. used statements by a former girlfriend of Elliott’s, along with photos of injuries he is accused of inflicting upon her, to justify the suspension.
Elliott’s appeal of the suspension rests on the belief that the investigation and appeal were unfair to him. A federal judge in Texas agreed with that notion, issuing an injunction in early September that blocked the suspension from starting.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit threw out that injunction last week in a 2-1 ruling, saying that the lawsuit on Elliott’s behalf was “premature” because all the procedures available under the league’s collective bargaining agreement had yet to be exhausted.
On top of further hearings in New York, the players’ association can, and likely has, sought an en banc hearing of the full panel of five judges from the Fifth Circuit to potentially reinstate the injunction.