20 September 2017
U.S. District Court Judge Amos Mazzant ruled on Monday, September 18, 2017, that Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliot’s suspension will remain on hold, allowing Elliot to continue to play. Judge Mazzant, the same judge who originally granted the preliminary injunction freezing the suspension, has held the injunction will remain in place because the “NFL deprived the NFLPA the right to present…any evidence relevant to the [arbitration] hearing.” Mazzant wrote that “the court still has a role to play in reviewing arbitral awards coming from labor disputes to ensure employees get a fundamentally fair hearing.” Elliot’s accuser did not testify at the arbitration hearing, but an NFL investigator had determined her domestic violence allegations were not credible. Mazzant took issue with how it appeared that the NFL tried to suppress the investigator’s conclusions. In granting the stay, Mazzant emphasized that “Elliott will suffer injury if he has to serve an improper suspension while awaiting the resolution of the petition to vacate.”
Elliot had been suspended six games by Commissioner Roger Goodell on August 11,2017 following a year-long investigation into the allegations. On September 5, 2017, Arbitrator Harold Henderson had denied Elliot’s appeal of the suspension, but, because of the timing of that decision, Elliot was allowed to play in the season opener. Then a few days later, Judge Mazzant granted the NFLPA’s request for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction, which froze Elliot’s suspension until his appeal worked its way through the courts. Because the NFL’s motion to stay this injunction has been denied, the case will now move to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans. The NFL has already filed an appeal. If the Fifth Circuit grants a stay of the injunction, Elliot’s suspension will begin immediately.