Ezekiel Elliott case: NFL files appeal to have preliminary injunction overturned

The ongoing court battle between the NFL and the NFLPA over Ezekiel Elliott's six-game suspension took another turn on Monday when the league officially filed an appeal of a preliminary injunction that was awarded to Elliott on Friday

The preliminary injunction, which was handed down by U.S. District Judge Amos Mazzant, meant that the NFL wouldn't be able to enforce Elliott's suspension untll the case went through the court system. 

In a lengthy explanation of his ruling, Mazzant said that he sided with Elliott and the NFLPA because the Cowboys running back didn't get a "fair hearing" when he appealed his suspension to arbitrator Harold Henderson. 

"Based upon the preliminary injunction standard, the Court finds, that Elliott did not receive a fundamentally fair hearing, necessitating the Court grant the request for preliminary injunction," Mazzant wrote. 

After hearing Elliott's appeal, Henderson upheld the six-game suspension that had been handed down by the NFL. The latest court filing by the league could mean trouble for Elliott if the court grants the NFL's appeal. 

The good news for Elliott is that the Fifth Circuit Court of appeals, where the case has been filed, doesn't have a high reversal rate, which means that on the surface, they would be highly unlikely to overturn Mazzant's injunction. According to numbers from attorney Daniel Wallach, the Fifth Circuit only overturned a total of 7.2 percent of the appeals they hears in 2016. 

Although the odds are in Elliott's favor, there would be huge ramifications if the Fifth Circuit DOES overturn Mazzant's injunction. If the injunction is thrown out, then Elliott's suspension would be likely be reinstated immediately and he'd be ineligible to play. 

The one thing that's not clear is when the Fifth Circuit might rule on the case. The circuit court moves very slowly, which means we might not see a ruling for months. If the court ruled in the NFL's favor and the Cowboys' season was already over, then Elliott would potentially start serving his suspension in 2018 (Remember, Tom Brady didn't start serving his suspension until 2016 even though he was suspended prior to the 2015 season). 

The NFL is aware at how slowly the circuit court moves, which is why the league has also asked Mazzant for an emergency stay of his decision. If that were granted, and Mazzant reversed his own injunction, then Elliott would likely begin his suspension almost immediately. If Mazzant denies the NFL's request for an emergency stay, then the case will likely go to the Fifth Circuit for an appeal and Elliott would likely end up playing all season. 

As for Elliott, he doesn't seem too worried about all the legal stuff anymore. Following the Cowboys' win over the Giants on Sunday night, Elliott said he's no longer going to worry about how things might play out in the court system

"I mean, it is what it is. I've kind of just stopped worrying about it, because it's really not in my hands at this point," Elliott said. "I'm just really focused right now on being the running back I need to be so this team can be successful, so we can accomplish what we want to."

Elliott rushed for 104 yards on Sunday night in the Owboys' win over the Giants. 

CBS Sports Writer

John Breech has been at CBS Sports since July 2011 and currently spends most of his time writing about the NFL. He's believed to be one of only three people in the world who thinks that Andy Dalton will... Full Bio

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