Appeals Court Lets Cowboys Play Ezekiel Elliott on Sunday

Dallas Cowboys’ Ezekiel Elliott stands on the field on Oct. 8, 2017, after a 35-31 loss to the Green Bay Packers in Arlington, Texas. A federal appeals court on Nov. 3, 2017, has issued a stay that lets the running back play this weekend despite a six-game suspension over domestic violence allegations. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth, File)

MANHATTAN (CN) – The Dallas Cowboys need not bench their star running back Ezekiel Elliott this weekend thanks to an intervention Friday by the Second Circuit.

Elliott and the players’ union have been fighting the NFL for the past two months over a six-game suspension that the league gave Elliott on domestic-violence allegations.

Though local authorities declined to prosecute when Elliott’s ex-girlfriend accused him of physically abusing her in August 2016, NFL  Commissioner Roger Goodell called for disciplinary measures this past September, saying the league’s year-long investigation determined that “Elliott’s behavior … was inappropriate and disturbing, reflecting a lack of respect for women.”

Elliott says the league’s disciplinary proceedings lacked due process, however, a claim that has become something of a recurring theme for the league as it haphazardly imposes morality standards on athletes for conduct that garners bad press.

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was unsuccessful last year in bucking his suspension over the Deflate-gate controversy, but Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice successfully appealed the indefinite suspension he was handed after video emerged of him knocking out his then-fiancee in a hotel elevator.

Elliott’s challenge meanwhile is underway before different courts in Texas and in New York. He moved for an emergency injunction this week at the Second Circuit after a federal judge hearing the latter case found that the NFL treated Elliott fairly.

U.S. Circuit Judge Susan Carney opted Friday to put that ruling on hold just for this Sunday’s upcoming game between the Cowboys and the Kansas City Chiefs.

This will give her colleagues enough time to decide if they should expedite Elliott’s appeal and grant an injunction in the meantime.

Those determinations will likely be made by a three-judge panel.

Carney set a motions deadline of Nov. 7 and emphasized that her stay offers no position on the merits of Elliott’s case. After Sunday, the Cowboys are not scheduled to play again until their game with the Atlanta Falcons on Nov. 12.

Paul Clement, a former U.S. solicitor general who represents the NFL for the firm Kirkland & Ellis, has not responded to a request for comment.

With a 4-3 win-loss record so far this season, the Dallas Cowboys have nine more games of regular season play remaining.

Elliott’s scandal erupted in August 2016 when his girlfriend at the time, Tiffany Thompson of Columbus, Ohio, posted pictures of her bruised body on Instagram. Her caption intimated that Elliott caused them.

“Thrown into walls,” it said. “Being choked to where I have to gasp for breath. Bruised everywhere, mentally and physically abused. It’s not okay. So I want each and every one of you girls to step away now from domestic violence.”

Though the NFL has not released its report on its Elliott investigation, a leaked copy obtained by Yahoo Sports says Thompson admitted to NFL investigators that she considered blackmailing Elliott with a sex tape.

Elliott has denied abusing Thompson and says the NFL’s unfair investigation denied him he opportunity to cross-examine her.

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