NFL asks court to hurry up and decide if it will reinstate Ezekiel Elliott suspension

Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott is all but certain to play in Week 2 against the Broncos. The NFL has admitted as much and, as it is already Thursday afternoon when this is being written, it would be surprising if a judge ruled on Elliott's case in time to make a decision for Week 2. Elliott was suspended for six games on August 12 for a violation of the league's domestic violence policy.

However, the NFL is attempting to put the screws on Judge Amos Mazzant (Eastern District of Texas) to get a ruling on whether or not Elliott will be allowed to continue playing. In fact, the league asked the judge to rule by Thursday afternoon on whether or not to it would grant the league's Emergency Motion to Stay Injunction Pending Appeal, which the league filed on September 11

The non-legalese version of that: the judge ruled in Elliott's favor to allow him to keep playing but still had to decide if he would grant an injunction for Elliott to play for the entire season. The NFL is asking him not to grant that and to remove the temporary injunction. The NFL also filed an appeal with the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals and is asking the judge to rule by Thursday or it will ask the Court of Appeals to tell Elliott he has to stop playing immediately. 

The NFL's argument for this are, as one might guess, not at all related to the facts of Elliott's case, but all about the CBA. (The NFLPA's arguments are the same kind of thing; it's very frustrating.) 

The league believes that the Fifth Circuit has clearly ruled when "both parties were undisputedly participating in the arbitration process" that the union's argument falls short. It also argues "given that the Arbitrator did not even arguably violate any of the CBA's bargained-for procedures" the ruling could not have been "fundamentally unfair." The league calls into question the NFLPA and Elliott's attempt to "evade its CBA obligations by delaying suspensions indefinitely" -- which is actually an interesting argument to be made here. 

By making that argument, the league could claim that any player who was suspended could push the suspension back by utilizing the legal system as a buffer for actually missing games. From a labor law perspective, the NFLPA using the court system as a crutch to avoid enforcement of agreed-upon rules is not a good look. 

The NFL also argues that not being able to impose suspensions in a timely fashion causes irrevocable harm to the league. Elliott's legal team argues that the Cowboys running back would be irrevocably harmed by missing games, because those games could never be given back to him, whereas the NFL could enforce a suspension at any point with no cost to them. The league claims Elliott playing tilts the NFL's competitive balance since he is supposed to be serving a suspension.

The guess here is that if the Judge Mazzant does rule by Thursday, it will not be in the favor of the NFL. Filing early this week and pressuring a judge who already ruled against the NFL probably won't sit well with said judge. 

The league could then file with the Court of Appeals for a stay on Friday, but it is unlikely that ruling would happen by the end of business, which is why the league admitted it is "likely" that Elliott ends up playing in Week 2. It also essentially means the league is trying to target Week 3 to r-impose the Elliott suspension. If the Court of Appeals denies the league's request, Elliott would be all but clear to play for the rest of the season while his case is heard. 

CBS Sports Senior Writer

Will Brinson joined CBS Sports in 2010 and enters his seventh season covering the NFL for CBS. He previously wrote for FanHouse along with myriad other Internet sites. A North Carolina native who lives... Full Bio

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