A Texas judge has granted Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction against the NFL, meaning Elliott is eligible to play indefinitely.
Elliott’s six-game suspension, handed down Aug. 11, was upheld earlier this week by NFL arbitrator Harold Henderson. Awaiting that ruling, though, the NFL Players Association filed a motion for the temporary restraining order.
Their case for the restraining order was heard on Tuesday in Sherman, Texas. Judge Amos Mazzant handed down the decision just after 5 p.m. Friday.
It’s essentially a “pause button” for Elliott’s case, who led the NFL in rushing last season. He can keep playing while he and/or the NFLPA presumably craft a lawsuit against the NFL to get the suspension overturned.
The NFL can appeal the decision to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, but a source tells WFAA they're not likely to win.
It’s widely believed Elliott will be on the field for the entire 2017 season as the legal back-and-forth between the two parties drags on.
Mazzant ruling in favor of Zeke Elliott, for both a TRO AND a preliminary injunction means the #Cowboys running back probably plays all year— Mike Leslie (@MikeLeslieWFAA) September 8, 2017
Elliott's attorney Tom Melsheimer called Friday's ruling "a victory for fundamental fairness."
"[The decision] is really great news for anyone who wants decisions made in a rational, fair and transparent way," he said. "There was significant evidence of information that was withheld... from the ultimate decision maker [Roger Goodell]."
Elliott had been deemed eligible for Week 1, regardless of Henderson’s ruling, for the sake of competitive fairness. If Elliott had not been granted the restraining order, he would have served a six game suspension starting in Week 2.
The six-game ban -- the league’s standard for a first-time domestic violence offense -- stems from allegations made by Elliott’s ex-girlfriend last summer in Ohio. The Columbus city attorney’s office didn’t pursue charges against Elliott in the case.
In a letter notifying Elliott of his suspension on Aug. 11, though, the NFL said it believed Elliott used “physical force” on multiple occasions in July of 2016. The letter cited photographic, electronic and medical evidence to back the decision.
With Elliott starting in the backfield, the Cowboys will feature the same fleet of running backs as last year. Darren McFadden and Alfred Morris had been set to carry the load in his absence.