Ezekiel Elliott asks court for administrative stay that would allow him to play Sunday
As part of his request for an injunction blocking his suspension, Elliott requested a brief stay
As its latest gambit in the ever-unfolding Ezekiel Elliott suspension saga, the NFLPA has requested that the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit expedite its appeal of the lower court ruling and issue an injunction stalling the suspension, pending the result of the appeal. Alternatively, the NFLPA requested that the court enter a "brief administrative stay" of the suspension on Elliott's behalf so that he can play in this weekend's game against the Kansas City Chiefs while awaiting a hearing in his request for an injunction.
Daniel Wallach, a prominent sports attorney who co-hosts the sports law podcast "Conduct Detrimental," noted that because the Second Circuit is not in session on Friday, the earliest possible hearing date for the Cowboys running back may be sometime next week. As Wallach also noted, the request is narrowly-tailored to allow Elliott to play in this Sunday's game, which is the only one being played prior to any possible hearing.
In its filing, the NFLPA stressed some of the same arguments it has previously made on Elliott's behalf, such as the fact that, if he is not granted an injunction pending appeal, he will have to actually serve the suspension before his appeal is decided. The lower court, in reinstating Elliott's suspension, ruled that the NFL's interest in obtaining the "benefit of its bargain" under the CBA outweighed the harm to Elliott in having to serve the suspension pending the result of his appeal.
The NFLPA also noted the existence of a circuit split confirmed by the NFL itself in its reply brief to the motion for an emergency injunction, and also argued that "if the district court's decision is left undisturbed, Article 46 proceedings will now become a star chamber that can dispense judgment on gravely serious issues such as alleged domestic violence and alleged sexual assault." (You would know Article 46 better as the section dealing with conduct detrimental to the NFL, which allows the commissioner broad powers to safeguard the "integrity of, or public confidence in, the game of professional football.")
Because there is no scheduled court date this week, the court could decide whether to grant Elliott's request for an administrative stay based solely on the most recent filings from the NFL and NFLPA.
If the stay is granted, Elliott would be eligible to play this weekend and would then have his request for an injunction pending the result of the full appeal heard (most likely) sometime next week. At that point, Elliott's eligibility for the following six games would be determined by how the court rules on his request for an injunction.
If the stay is denied by the court (or if the court simply doesn't rule on it prior to Sunday), Elliott will have to sit out this weekend's game against the Chiefs, and he and the NFLPA would presumably still continue on with the injunction request and subsequent appeal as early as next week.
An NFLPA win on the actual appeal seems extraordinarily unlikely given that the Second Circuit is the court that decided the Deflategate case, thus affording extremely broad powers to the commissioner and his appointed arbitrator in the adjudication of player suspension appeals. Its requests for an injunction pending appeal and for a brief administrative stay likely have a slightly greater -- but still likely small -- chance of success.
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