FRISCO (105.3 The Fan) – Ezekiel Elliott has taken a big step forward in his battle with the NFL.
Federal Judge Amos Mazzant granted the Cowboys running back a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction on Friday, which means that Elliott is now eligible to play beyond Sunday’s season opener against the New York Giants. Elliott has already been cleared to play this week.
Because of the judge’s ruling, Elliott’s suspension is now blocked and he will likely play the entire season.
“The question before the Court is merely whether Elliott received a fundamentally fair hearing before the arbitrator. The answer is he did not. The Court finds, based upon the injunction standard, that Elliott was denied a fundamentally fair hearing by Henderson’s refusal to allow Thompson and Goodell to testify at the arbitration hearing. Their absence effectively deprived Elliott of any chance to have a fundamentally fair hearing. The Court grants the request for preliminary injunction,” Mazzant said in his case filing.
The NFL Players Association released a statement after the ruling Friday: “Commissioner discipline will continue to be a distraction from our game for one reason: because NFL owners have refused to collectively bargain a fair and transparent process that exists in other sports. This “imposed” system remains problematic for players and the game, but as the honest and honorable testimony of a few NFL employees recently revealed, it also demonstrates the continued lack of integrity within their own league office. ”
The NFL filed a brief in the same court earlier Friday asking Judge Mazzant to throw out Elliott’s petition to vacate the league’s ruling and deny a temporary restraining order. The NFL’s filing also asked the court to transfer the case to the United States District Court in New York. However, the judge decided not to do that.
If the NFL wants to, they can appeal the decision to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Elliott’s six game suspension for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy was upheld on appeal by arbitrator Harold Henderson on Tuesday.
The former Ohio State star’s lawsuit accuses the NFL’s appeal process of being “fundamentally unfair” because Henderson denied a request to have his ex-girlfriend testify at a hearing that ended on August 31.
The suit also claims that NFL executives hid information that was favorable to Elliott before Commissioner Roger Goodell imposed the punishment on Aug. 11.
The lawsuit also accuses NFL special counsel Lisa Friel of withholding from Goodell the word of co-lead investigator Kia Roberts, who the suit says concluded that the accuser wasn’t credible and that discipline wasn’t warranted.
“The withholding of this critical information from the disciplinary process was a momentous denial of the fundamental fairness required in every arbitration and, of course, does not satisfy federal labor law’s minimal due process requirements,” the lawsuit said.
Elliott’s attorney Frank Salzano sent CBS 11 a statement that read: “We just learned of the Honorable Amos Mazzant’s decision to grant Mr. Elliott’s request for a preliminary injunction staying that NFL’s six-game suspension. We are very pleased that Mr. Elliott will finally be given the opportunity to have an impartial decision-maker carefully examine the NFL’s misconduct. This is just the beginning of the unveiling of the NFL’s mishandling as it relates to Mr. Elliott’s suspension. As the Court noted, the question of whether Mr. Elliott received a fundamentally fair hearing was answered… “he did not.” We agree.
Fans in North Texas are breathing a sigh of relief after the news that Elliott will likely play the entire season.
“I love it. I can’t wait to beat New York to the dirt,” said Jared Norris as fans get ready for the opener against the Giants.
“I hope it’s something that isn’t as bad as it sounds, but I’m not one to judge. I don’t know the details of everything,” said fan Dan Luna. “I am so happy. That means Cowboys Nation is on the road to the Super Bowl.”