ESPN Federal judge Amos Mazzant on Friday granted a request by the NFL Players Association for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to prevent the implementation of the six-game suspension for Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott. Elliott was already eligible to play in Sunday’s season opener against the New York Giants, but his suspension for violating the league’s personal conduct policy was set to begin Monday. With the injunction granted, Elliott will likely be able to continue playing as the legal process plays out. If the request had been denied, Elliott would have appealed to the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to ask for an immediate stay. On Tuesday, appeals officer Harold Henderson upheld the suspension handed down from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell as Mazzant was hearing Elliott’s request at the Paul Brown District Court in Sherman, Texas. On Aug. 11, Goodell announced Elliott’s six-game suspension after the league found that he inflicted physical harm on former girlfriend Tiffany Thompson in July 2016 in Columbus, Ohio. Elliott has denied the claims. Columbus authorities did not pursue charges against Elliott, but the league’s personal conduct policy has a lower burden of proof threshold than criminal convictions. Goodell worked with a four-person advisory committee to determine whether Elliott deserved to be punished. However, it was revealed during the appeal process that Kia Roberts, the NFL’s lead investigator, had issues with Thompson’s credibility and that she would not have recommended discipline for Elliott based on what she’d found. “The question before the Court is merely whether Elliott received a fundamentally fair hearing before the arbitrator. The answer is he did not,” Mazzant wrote in his ruling. “The Court finds, based upon the injunction standard, that Elliott was denied a fundamentally fair hearing by Henderson’s refusal to allow Thompson and Goodell to testify at the arbitration hearing.” Mazzant also wrote that “the NFL’s breach of the [collective bargaining agreement] is only compounded by Henderson’s breach of the CBA. Specifically, Henderson denied access to certain procedural requirements, which were necessary to be able to present all relevant evidence at the hearing.” In his ruling, Mazzant noted that the court was not ruling on whether there was credible evidence that Elliott committed domestic abuse. At the heart of the NFLPA’s case is what it believes is a lack of “fundamental fairness,” in the appeals process, noting Henderson was not an independent arbitrator and they were not allowed to question Thompson about the series of events two summers ago. “Commissioner discipline will continue to be a distraction from our game for one reason: because NFL owners have refused to collectively bargain a fair and transparent process that exists in other sports,” the NFLPA said in a statement on Friday. “This ‘imposed’ system remains problematic for players and the game, but as the honest and honorable testimony of a few NFL employees recently revealed, it also demonstrates the continued lack of integrity within their own League office.”
Huge breaking news for the Dallas Cowboys, a judge ruled in favor of Ezekiel Elliott and granted him a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to prevent the implementation of his six-game suspension from the NFL. As the long legal process plays out, Ezekiel Elliott should be able to play, meaning it is highly likely Ezekiel Elliott will be on the field for the entire 2017 NFL season. Hey legal system, this is information we could have used before our fantasy football drafts, now someone who stole Ezekiel Elliott in the second or third round of our draft is the favorite to win our leagues.