A federal judge denied the NFL’s request for an expedited preliminary injunction hearing in the Ezekiel Elliott case, ensuring the Dallas Cowboys running back will be allowed to play against the Washington Redskins this coming Sunday.
U.S. District Court Judge Katherine P. Failla confirmed Monday the hearing will take place on Oct. 30 at 5 p.m. ET. If the judge does not grant the NFL Players Association and Elliott a preliminary injunction, he will be suspended again. If she does, his suspension will continue to be on hold as the case makes its way through court.
The NFL almost certainly would appeal Elliott being awarded a preliminary injunction and could ask the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for an emergency stay in the decision, according to Gabe Feldman, director of the Tulane University Sports Law Program.
Last week, the league made its request for the hearing to be pushed up in an effort to enforce Elliott’s suspension before the Cowboys‘ next game against the Redskins. The motion came days after U.S. District Judge Paul A. Crotty issued a temporary restraining order in the NFLPA’s case to dissolve Elliott’s ban, allowing the second-year running back to play again. He has not missed a single game this year despite being suspended briefly at two points this season.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Elliott in August after a year-long investigation into domestic violence accusations made by his former girlfriend, Tiffany Thompson. The NFL found he violated its personal conduct policy, which mandates a six-game suspension for first-time domestic violence violations. In a letter sent to Elliott, the NFL stated it believed he used physical force against Thompson three times over a span of five days in July 2016.
NFL spokesman Joe Lockhart told reporters last week the league isn’t interested in reaching a settlement with Elliott and the NFLPA.
“We’re not looking to make a deal,” Lockhart said. “We’re very confident our arguments will prevail in court.”
Elliott also told reporters last week it’s important for him to continue his legal fight.
“When you get accused of something of that magnitude, you kind of get labeled as an abuser,” Elliott said. “That’s just not me, that’s not how I want to be seen, not how I want to represent my family. It’s just important for me to fight.”
The NFLPA is challenging the process the NFL undertook to suspend Elliott — not the factual conclusions from its investigation, Feldman said. The NFL’s appeal is part of an attempt to enforce Elliott’s suspension this season and confirm Goodell’s authority to issue punishment based on “conduct detrimental” to the league as mandated in Article 46 of the collective bargaining agreement.
It remains to be seen if Elliott will be suspended again this season or if this legal case will continue well into 2018.