Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott’s six-game suspension has finally been enforced as a three-judge panel in the 2nd Circuit US Court of Appeals denied his motion for a preliminary injunction that would block his suspension imposed by the NFL once again. He was suspended because he broke personal conduct policy of the league over the allegations of domestic violence against his former girlfriend, Tiffany Thompson.
Elliott has been placed on the suspended list immediately, which means that he will not play against Atlanta Falcons this Sunday, whereas he returns against Seattle Seahawks on December 24. Dennis Jacobs, Christopher Droney, and Debra Livingston were the judges who denied the motion and these three would probably be the ones to hear the expedited appeal of the full suit on December 1.
Before December 1, when the appeal is scheduled, the Dallas Cowboys will play against the Atlanta Falcons, Philadelphia Eagles, Los Angeles Chargers and Washington Redskins. These are the games Elliott will miss, plus he will not play two games on the road versus the New York Giants and Oakland Raiders.
There are still several options for Elliott and NFL Players Association as they could request an en banc hearing with the full 2nd Circuit court and take the case to the US Supreme Court. However, these things are likely not going to happen because there is no way that Elliott is back on the field by Sunday. On Thursday, NFL vice-president Joe Lockhart said that suspension would be imposed as soon as the stay was lifted and that is what is happening now.
Interestingly enough, the Cowboys running back was never charged with the crime or arrested, and in the eyes of the Ohio state prosecutors, he remained innocent. He decided to fight the league to the end because he wanted to clear his name, but with the suspension into effect, Elliott is not allowed to approach the Cowboys’ facility.
So far in the season, despite the slow start, Elliott is second with 783 rushing yards, just behind Kareem Hunt who holds the first place, plus he also recorded seven rushing touchdowns. His suspension initially came on August 11, but due to the effort by his lawyers and series of injunctions, restraining order, and rulings, he managed to stay on the field. Judge Amos Mazzant gave Elliott a preliminary injunction, which allowed Zeke to play the first five games, but then the case went from Texas to 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.
Because Judge Paul Crotty did an irreparable harm, Elliott’s 14-day restraining order allowed him to play two more matches, when Judge Katherine Failla rejected a motion for a preliminary injunction at the end of October. Zeke wanted to overturn Failla’s decision, so he filed an emergency appeal with the 2nd Circuit, and that is why he was eligible for the game against Kansas City Chiefs. Moreover, Elliott participated in team’s practice on Tuesday and Wednesday, while on Thursday, he went to New York only to find out that the suspension is enforced.
The Cowboys have just got out of the losing streak and improved their record from 2-3 to 5-3 and losing Elliott is a big blow. Zeke was the league leader in rushing last year, despite the fact that it was his rookie season and he has just found his rushing game after being inconsistent in the first few matches of the season.
In the last four games, this guy had five touchdowns and 506 rushing yards, and now he is out. Instead of him, Dallas will give a chance to Alfred Morris against the Falcons, but we will definitely see Rod Smith and Darren McFadden in the backfield at some point of the game.
This suspension also includes the financial fee as well. Elliott’s base salary for 2017 is $1.58 million and not playing six games of the season will cost him $560,000. Moreover, his $16.35 million signing bonus will be affected as he would have to return $1.4 million, which is a usual practice when a player breaks the personal conduct policy. Furthermore, his 2018 and 2019 salaries will not be guaranteed if Elliott suffers a career-ending injury.