Dallas Cowboys’ star running back, Ezekiel Elliott, has found himself suspended six games by the NFL due to alleged domestic violence incidents that violated the NFL’s Personal Conduct Policy. Wait a minute, didn’t this already happen? Yes, it did, and now it is being implemented once again. It has been a long and complicated process for both respective parties. I bet you’re wondering how we ended up here again, so let’s take a look at a very broad and vague timeline of this ongoing case.
August 11th, 2017 – The NFL hands Ezekiel Elliott a six-game suspension
NFL decides to hand Ezekiel Elliott a six-game suspension after former girlfriend, Tiffany Thompson accused Elliott of assaulting her on five separate occasions over the course of a week in July of 2016. Elliot was never arrested and prosecutors failed to charge Elliot based on conflicting and inconsistent evidence.
Under the terms of the NFL’s personal conduct policy, players who are found to be in violation of domestic violence can be subject to “a baseline suspension without pay for six games,” regardless if the player is handed a criminal conviction.
August 15th, 2017 – NFLPA files an appeal on Elliott’s behalf
Well of course he did, carry on!
August 16th, 2017 – Roger Goodell appoints Henderson to hear Appeal
This was an interesting dynamic that the NFLPA was not particularly happy about. Goodell had the option of hearing Elliott’s appeal himself or appointing a designee. Roger Goodell decided to waive his right and appointed Harold Henderson as the arbiter (third-party) of the appeal hearing. What an extremely cheeky decision made by Goodell here. Henderson oversaw high-profile cases such as Greg Hardy and Adrian Peterson. Why was this a big deal? Well, those cases all resulted in suspensions for those players. You can see why the NFLPA were not too pleased now right?
August 29th-31st, 2017 – Elliott’s appeal hearing in New York
With the Cowboys’ season starting in a little over a week, Elliott’s appeal hearing ended August 31st after lasting three days and twenty-five hours. The NFLPA hired Jeffrey Kessler to defend Elliot. Kessler recently represented Tom Brady during his battles against Roger Goodell.
The night that Elliott’s appeal hearing ended, the NFLPA and Elliott’s attorneys filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of Eastern Texas to vacate whatever suspension results from the appeal process.
September 5th, 2017 – Elliott’s suspension is upheld
Harold Henderson upholds Elliott’s suspension. To no one’s surprise, the NFL also files a motion to dismiss Elliott’s lawsuit. This was the final piece of officially reinstating Elliott’s suspension. If his lawsuit is dismissed, he will be suspended.
September 8th, 2017 – Judge grants NFLPA’s request for preliminary injunction
BOOM! Just like that Elliott is back on the field. Judge Amos Mazzant made the ruling. The preliminary injunction put the suspension on hold until there is a final ruling. For those who aren’t aware of legal definitions and proceedings (most of us really), a preliminary injunction is basically a delay on a case or a dispute. Since there is a delay, the status quo remains, resulting in Elliott’s eligibility for the first and beyond until further ruling on the case.
There is two main requires in order for a court to grant preliminary injunction, which is considered an extraordinary relief. First Elliott must prove that he is likely to be successful in trial based on the merits of the case and that there would be irreparable harm regarding the athlete’s legacy if the injunction is not granted.
September 11th, 2017 – NFL files appeal on injunction
Because why wouldn’t they? You’re starting to pick up the theme now,
October 12th, 2017 – Court rules in favor of NFL, Elliott’s suspension is back on!
The 5th Circuit Court (federal appeals court) rules 2-1 in favor of the NFL. The Court ruled that the district court did not have subject matter jurisdiction (didn’t have the right) to implement a preliminary injunction. This decision obviously nullified the injunction but also directed an order to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas to dismiss the lawsuit filed by the NFLPA.
And that so far, is where we stand folks. Elliott is suspended and the NFL has a moment of relief for a while. This will go on for a long, long time with no end in sight! Elliott will start serving his suspension immediately. How will this affect Roger Goodell? It won’t, he’ll probably be able to sleep a little lighter at night now. How does this affect the Dallas Cowboys? Although he hasn’t had quite the season he had compared to his rookie campaign, not having Ezekiel Elliott at your disposal definitely leaves you with fewer options and a weaker running game.
I think I can speak for all my fellow bloggers and readers that the judicial process is not only interesting but overbearingly exciting. The next steps to the process will unfold in the upcoming days/weeks, till then, goodbye for now Zeke!