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Second Circuit Stays Ezekiel Elliott's Suspension

By Christopher Coble, Esq. | Last updated on

The long saga of Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott versus the National Football League reached the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals this week, where Elliott was granted a stay of his suspension. After a U.S. District Court in New York ruled in the NFL's favor, the NFL Players Association appealed the ruling to the Second Circuit, and won Elliott at least a brief reprieve -- he will play this Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs.

So what does this mean for Elliot and his case going forward?

Suspension Stay

To be clear, the court did not get to the merits of the dispute between the NFL and the NFLPA, who are representing Elliott's interests in the case. The NFLPA had requested an emergency injunction pending appeal that would lift the NFL's suspension of Elliott while his appeal is being argued, as well as an expedited appeal. Circuit Judge Susan L. Carney granted that request, sending the case to "the next available three-judge motions panel" and allowing Elliott to play this weekend.

The Long Drive

It can be hard to keep track of a case like Elliott's, which has bounced from arbitration to the courts and from circuit to circuit. Here's an oversimplified timeline:

Aug. 11: NFL suspends Elliott for six games following a year-long investigation into allegations of domestic violence from Elliott's ex-girlfriend

Elliott appeals the decision

NFLPA files lawsuit on his behalf in the U.S. District Court of Eastern Texas

Sep. 6: NFL arbitrator denies Elliott's appeal, upholds the suspension

Sep. 8: Judge Amos Mazzant in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas applied a preliminary injunction to allow Elliott to keep playing while the court case continued.

Oct. 12: Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals overturns Judge Mazzant's injunction, reinstates suspension

NFLPA and Elliott re-file appeal in New York

Oct. 18: Elliott granted temporary restraining order delaying suspension

Oct. 30: Judge Katherine Polk Failla in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York denies request for injunction, reinstates suspension

NFLPA and Elliott appeal to Second Circuit

Nov. 3: Judge Carney grants emergency injunction

The Next Play

Elliott and the NFLPA can still argue that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's handling of the investigation and suspension was unfair, but they are fighting an uphill battle. The Collective Bargaining Agreement that governs such suspensions gives the league and the commissioner wide latitude and the Second Circuit recently ruled in the NFL's favor against Patriots quarterback Tom Brady when he challenged the infamous Deflategate suspension.

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