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The back-and-forth between the NFL Players Association and the NFL in Ezekiel Elliot’s appeal process continued Saturday.
The NFLPA made its argument against the NFL’s six-game suspension of Elliott with the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans. The NFLPA said that while there would be no irreparable harm to the NFL if the Dallas Cowboys running back continues playing while the legal battle goes on, the opposite could be said for the impact an immediate suspension would have on Elliott.
The NFLPA noted Saturday that Elliott “stands to lose nearly half a season in a career that is notoriously short and precarious, and competitive opportunities are irretrievable once lost.” The players’ union also reiterated that the NFL’s discipline process is unfair and inconsistent. It also re-presented its stance that the league conspired to suppress exculpatory evidence from the beginning of the appeal process.
The NFLPA was responding to the NFL’s emergency filing on Friday asking the appeals court to overrule the Texas federal judge who granted a preliminary injunction of Elliott’s suspension — seeking a decision as early as Tuesday.
“Elliott’s fame and notoriety provide no license to ignore the longstanding federal labor policy preference to avoid judicial interference with the private dispute resolution process for which the parties here bargained,” Eric Gambrell, one of the NFL’s lawyers, wrote in the stay filing Friday.
The players’ union sued the NFL on behalf of Elliott after commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Elliott in August after the league concluded — through its own investigation — the running back had several physical confrontations in 2016 with his ex-girlfriend.
U.S. District Court Judge Amos Mazzant, the same judge who granted a temporary injunction last week, had a similar stay request in front of him already; Mazzant ruled Elliott’s six-game suspension by the NFL was “fundamentally unfair.”
Sports law attorney Daniel Wallach said like the NFL’s stay request with Mazzant, the league’s prospects of getting a stay with the 5th Circuit aren’t great.
“The motion will likely be denied due to the absence of any ‘irreparable harm’ to the league, as compared to plenty for Elliott,” said Wallach, a partner at Becker & Poliakoff based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. “If forced to serve his suspension now due to a stay of the injunction, he will be irreparably harmed by virtue of sitting out games that he will never recapture should he later prevail on appeal. There is no time machine that would enable him to go back in time and play those games.”
Contributing: A.J. Perez, Lindsay Jones