Ezekiel Elliott's legal appeal of his six-game NFL suspension effectively ended last week when the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals refused to allow the Cowboys running back to continue playing as his case made its way through the federal judiciary. Even if Elliott eventually prevailed in his appeal against NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's sanctions, he'd be unable to get the games back.
Late Wednesday afternoon, Elliott accepted that reality, officially dropping his challenge to the ban, issued by Goodell in response to domestic violence allegations made against Elliott by his ex-girlfriend in July 2016.
"In consultation with the NFLPA [NFL Players Association] and his lawyers, and after careful deliberation and review of the recent Second Circuit decisions, Mr. Elliott has decided to forego any further appeals and will serve the remaining suspension," according to a statement announcing Elliott's decision that was issued by his agents, Rocky Arceneaux and Frank Salzano. "This decision arises from a practical assessment of the current legal landscape. Mr. Elliott's desire for closure in this matter is in his best interest, as well as the best interests of his teammates, family and friends."
Since Goodell issued his decision to suspend Elliott in August, Elliott has maintained his innocence and fought what he and his lawyers believe is a fundamentally unfair league disciplinary process. Initially, Elliott won an injunction allowing him to keep playing through the beginning of the Cowboys' season based on NFL arbitrator Harold Henderson's decision to keep Goodell and Elliott's accuser from testifying at his NFL appeal.
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The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals threw out Elliott's initial lawsuit because it was filed before Henderson issued his appeal ruling. Elliott's arguments were rejected after the case moved to the NFL's preferred venue in New York, where two federal courts gave wide deference to Goodell's powers under the NFL's collective bargaining agreement, denying Elliott's request to continue playing as his lawsuit continued.
On Wednesday, Elliott continued to maintain that he did not attack his accuser, Tiffany Thompson.
"This decision is in no way an admission of any wrongdoing, and Mr. Elliott is pleased that the legal fight mounted by he and his team resulted in disclosing many hidden truths regarding this matter as well [as] publicly exposing the NFL's mismanagement of its disciplinary process," the statement says.
With his appeal over, Elliott will continue to sit out through the Cowboys' Dec. 17 game in Oakland, California against the Raiders before being eligible to return the following week when the Cowboys take on the Seahawks in Arlington on Christmas Eve. In the meantime, he intends to release a "final personal statement" about Thompson's accusations and the suspension in the coming weeks. Beyond than, Arceneaux and Salzano said, Elliott will not comment again on the matter.