Ezekiel Elliott will not take the field with his Cowboys teammates Sunday afternoon in Atlanta. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Thursday afternoon that Elliott must begin serving his NFL-imposed suspension immediately, denying the running back's request that the suspension be put on hold as he continues to fight the league in federal court.
In a one-page order issued less than an hour after Elliott's emergency stay hearing, a three-judge 2nd Circuit panel found that Elliott's claims did not meet the standard necessary for a stay pending appeal. The judges rejected Elliott's claims that he would suffer irreparable harm from missing games were he to eventually prevail against the league in court. They also rejected arguments from Elliott's lawyers that the NFL engaged in fundamentally unfair conduct when it did not ask Tiffany Thompson, Elliott's ex-girlfriend, or NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to testify at Elliott's league appeal hearing. Thompson's domestic violence allegations against Elliott led Goodell to suspend the running back for six games.
Elliott managed to stave off the suspension for the Cowboys' first eight games through a series of legal filings in Texas, Louisiana and New York. While his legal options aren't exhausted — Thursday's ruling isn't a verdict — Elliott will miss the Cowboys' next six games. He is eligible to return to the Cowboys the week before the team's Christmas Eve showdown with the Seahawks in Arlington.
If Elliott chooses, he can continue fighting the league in court, but the best he can hope for now is regaining the $560,000 in salary he'll miss out on over the next month and a half. However, the court's decision Thursday points to the likely final decision in the case. If the 2nd Circuit judges believed Elliott had a substantial likelihood of success were he to proceed further, they would've granted his stay request.[pdf-1]