Ezekiel Elliott is likely to miss the Cowboys' next six games after a decision from U.S. District Judge Katherine Failla. The judge decided late Monday night to uphold the six-game suspension handed to Elliott by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell stemming from domestic violence allegations made by Elliott's ex-girlfriend.
Elliott and the NFL Players Association are expected to appeal Failla's decision to the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals.
In her decision, Failla wrote that, contrary to arguments from Elliott's defense team, the Cowboys running back received a fair hearing from NFL arbiter Harold Henderson, a former league executive appointed by Goodell to hear Elliott's suspension appeal.
"The arbitrator gave Mr. Elliott ample opportunity, in terms of both proceedings and evidence, to challenge the Commissioner’s decision before the arbitrator; the arbitrator’s ultimate decision against Mr. Elliott does not render these proceedings any less fair. Accordingly, the Court dissolves the temporary restraining order that has been in place since October 17, 2017, and denies the NFLPA’s motion," Failla wrote.
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Elliott's team argued that Henderson's decision to excuse Goodell and Tiffany Thompson, Elliott's ex-girlfriend, from testifying at Elliott's appeal hearing made it impossible for Elliott to receive a fair hearing of his appeal. Kia Roberts, the NFL's co-lead investigator in the case, interviewed Thompson six times. She did not believe Thompson was credible and did not believe Elliott should've been suspended.
Elliott's defense contended that it should've been able to challenge Thompson's credibility in the hearing and examine Goodell's failure to meet with Roberts before handing out the suspension. According to Failla, Henderson's alleged errors, if they were errors at all, did not irreparably bias the proceedings.
"The NFLPA claims three errors by the arbitrator that rendered the proceeding unfair; whether considered individually or collectively, the putative errors do not constitute — and do not raise a substantial question concerning — the fundamental fairness of the challenged arbitral proceedings," she wrote.
While Failla's decision is not the final one in Elliott's case, it makes it exceedingly unlikely that he will serve anything less than the full six-game suspension imposed by Goodell. If Elliott and the NFL Players Association press on to seek a final decision in the case, all Elliott could hope to win back would be the six game checks he'll lose during the course of the suspension.