A federal appeals court ruled Thursday in favor of the NFL, effectively reinstating league commissioner Roger Goodell’s six-game suspension of Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott. The NFL suspended Elliott before the season following a yearlong investigation into allegations of domestic violence that surfaced in July 2016. The NFL players’ union, however, took the NFL to court and received an injunction last month allowing the running back to suit up.
Thursday’s 2-1 decision by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel in New Orleans ruled in favor of the NFL on jurisdictional grounds, saying the district court “lacked subject-matter jurisdiction to adjudicate the players’ union’s appeal of the suspension,” according to the New York Times. The union had appealed on Elliott’s behalf claiming Goodell’s suspension failed to adhere to due process. The running back was not arrested or charged after prosecutors in Columbus, Ohio failed to pursue the case citing conflicting evidence. Using statements from Elliott’s former girlfriend and photos of her injuries as part of the NFL investigation into the incident, Goodell “determined the domestic violence allegations were substantiated and that Elliottshould be suspended for six games,” the court notes. The case then headed to arbitration, but a little more than a week after the arbitration hearing, the union filed for a preliminary injunction blocking the suspension from being enforced.
That allowed Elliot to play in the Cowboys first five games of the season, going 2-3. The Cowboys have a bye this week, meaning their next game isn’t until October 22nd in San Francisco. As it currently stands, Elliott would be out until Nov 30th against Washington. The players’ union, however, seems likely go back to court to try to get the suspension dropped. “If it refiles in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York or in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, the NFLPA almost certainly will make a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction request in an effort to allow Elliott to not miss a game,” Gabe Feldman, director of the Tulane Sports Law program, told NFL.com.