Reports: Ezekiel Elliott's 6-game suspension upheld, but he can play Week 1
Elliott was suspended six games for alleged incidents of domestic violence
The first step in sorting through the messy situation that is Ezekiel Elliott's appeal of his six-game suspension is finally here. On Tuesday night, the designated arbitrator in Elliott's appeal, Harold Henderson, upheld Elliott's suspension, according to ESPN's Chris Mortensen.
But there's a twist. Kate Hairopoulos of the Dallas Morning News and Tom Pelissero of NFL Network are reporting that Elliott will be eligible to play Week 1 when the Cowboys host the Giants because Henderson issued his ruling too late on Tuesday.
Here's how Elliott's attorneys responded to Henderson's decision, via ESPN's Adam Schefter:
We received Arbitrator Harold Henderson's decision to uphold Mr. Elliott's suspension of six games. We are extremely disappointed with Mr. Henderson's inability to navigate through league politics, and follow the evidence and, most importantly, his (conscience). The evidence that Mr. Elliott and his team presented on appeal clearly demonstrated that Mr. Elliott was the victim of a conspiracy orchestrated by the National Football League and its officers to keep exonerating evidence from the decision-makers, including the advisors and Roger Goodell. The only just decision was to overturn the suspension in its entirety. Mr. Elliott is looking forward to having his day in federal court where the playing field will be level and the NFL will have to answer for its unfair and unjust practices.
So, as of now, Elliott will play Week 1 against the Giants. He will miss the Cowboys' games against the Broncos, Cardinals, Rams, Packers, 49ers and Redskins. And he'll be eligible to return Week 9 against the Chiefs.
Key words: As of now. That's because Elliott has already taken the fight to court.
The NFL issued Elliott's six-game suspension last month due to alleged incidents of domestic violence against his then-girlfriend, Tiffany Thompson, in 2016. Elliott appealed the suspension, meeting with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell's designated arbitrator, Henderson, in New York last week. On Tuesday night, Henderson issued his ruling.
Before Henderson's ruling came down, Elliott sued the NFL, asking the Eastern District Court of Texas to overturn Henderson's ruling, claiming that there was a "league-orchestrated conspiracy by senior NFL executives ... to hide critical information." Elliott is also seeking a temporary restraining order against the NFL, which would prevent the NFL from enforcing Henderson's arbitration ruling. According to Pelissero, the judge will rule on the temporary restraining order by Friday.
If he's granted the TRO or an injunction at a later point, he'll be allowed to play while the matter gets resolved in court, though he could still be forced to serve his suspension at a later point -- like how Tom Brady was allowed to play during the entire 2015 season, but ultimately served his four-game suspension the following year. If he's not granted the TRO or an injunction, he'll serve his suspension after Week 1.
Meanwhile, the league responded by filing a motion to dismiss Elliott's federal case. As our Will Brinson explained earlier Tuesday, Elliott faces an uphill court battle. But it's a battle he's apparently willing to fight.
Elliott, the fourth overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, led the league with 1,631 rushing yards in his rookie season. If the Cowboys are forced to take the field without their star running back, they'll likely turn to Darren McFadden and Alfred Morris.
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