(The Sports Xchange) - A U.S. District Court judge has put on hold Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott’s six-game suspension, granting a request by the NFL Players Association for a temporary restraining order.
Elliott’s suspension for violating the league’s personal conduct policy was set to begin on Monday, one day after he was eligible to compete in the Cowboys’ season-opening game against the NFC East rival New York Giants.
With the injunction, issued on Friday, Elliott likely will be able to continue playing as the legal process plays out.
“(Elliott didn’t) receive a fundamentally fair hearing, necessitating the court grant the request for preliminary injunction,” Judge Amos Mazzant III said in his ruling.
The decision also said the “circumstances of this case are unmatched by any case this court has seen.”
The NFL disagreed with the ruling.
“We strongly believe that the investigation and evidence supported the commissioner’s decision and that the process was meticulous and fair throughout,” the league said in a statement.
“We will review the decision in greater detail and discuss next steps with counsel, both in the district court and federal court of appeals.”
There’s no timeline for Mazzant to make a decision on whether to allow the petition to move forward to trial, according to Gabe Feldman, director of the Tulane Sports Law Program.
While Friday’s decision serves as a victory for the 22-year-old Elliott, it does not mean that he won’t have to serve the suspension at some point.
On Tuesday, appeals officer Harold Henderson upheld the suspension handed down from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
The player association called for a change in the NFL policy.
“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.”
Elliott, who was not arrested nor charged in the case, maintained his innocence after being accused of assaulting his former girlfriend, Tiffany Thompson. The original punishment was issued by Goodell on Aug. 11 after a 13-month investigation.
Editing by Gene Cherry