The NFL has filed an emergency motion with the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, seeking a stay of the preliminary injunction that blocked Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott‘s six-game suspension for violating the league’s personal conduct policy.
The league has asked for a ruling by Tuesday and no later than Sept. 26.
“The NFL’s latest legal maneuvering appears to be indicative of a league with an agenda: trying to navigate a public relations crisis rather than focus on fairness and fact finding,” wrote Elliott’s attorneys in a statement. “The only conclusion that can be drawn is that the NFL believes it can write its own rules and will stop at nothing to further its agenda of enforcing its unfounded assertions regarding Mr. Elliott. Most recently this would include the NFL seeking an expedited hearing on staying the preliminary injunction by frivolously arguing that the NFL is somehow ‘irreparably harmed’ by Elliott playing while the Courts decide whether the investigation and appeal was fundamentally unfair. Mr. Elliott and his team will continue to zealously oppose any of the NFL’s court filings.”
Elliott played Sunday against the New York Giants. Without the ruling from U.S. District Judge Amos Mazzant, Elliott would have missed the next six games and not been able to return until Nov. 5 against the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Cowboys will visit the Denver Broncos on Sunday. The legal maneuverings are unlikely to keep the 2016 NFL rushing leader from playing Sunday.
The NFL is following a similar path it took in the 2015 Deflategate case against New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. Brady initially won a reprieve in district court, but a higher court affirmed the NFL’s four-game penalty for deflating game balls. That came after the 2015 season, so Brady sat out the first four games of the 2016 season.
A former girlfriend accused Elliott of domestic violence on separate occasions in July 2016 in Columbus, Ohio. The city attorney’s office did not pursue charges against Elliott, citing inconsistent evidence. The NFL’s personal conduct policy does not require the same burden of proof for a player to be found in violation.
In levying its suspension, the league said it had persuasive evidence Elliott committed violence against the woman on multiple occasions.
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