A US District Court judge has granted a preliminary injunction of Ezekiel Elliott’s six-game suspension which will likely allow the Cowboys running back to play the entire 2017 season, according to Austin Knoblauch of NFL.com
The decision is “without question, a home run for Elliott and the NFLPA,” according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, who is also an attorney.
Florio broke down the four reasons why Judge Amos Mazzant granted a preliminary injunction blocking Elliott’s six-game suspension stemming from an alleged 2016 domestic violence incident. However, those reasons can be summed up by this statement in the judge’s ruling:
“The circumstances of this case are unmatched by any case this Court has seen. . . . Fundamental unfairness infected this case from the beginning, eventually killing any possibility that justice would be served.”
According to Florio, there were four points that drove the judge’s decision:
- The arbitrator during Elliott’s appeal refused to make Tiffany Thompson (the alleged victim) available for cross-examination. According to Florio, the judge concluded that “concerns regarding the credibility of Tiffany Thompson demanded an opportunity by Elliott’s lawyers to cross-examine [her].”
- The NFL did not produce during the appeal hearing their notes taken during interviews of Thompson.
- NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was not compelled to testify during the appeal. According to Florio, the judge ruled that “the confusion regarding the handling of the opinions and conclusions of NFL Director of Investigations Kia Roberts required Commissioner Roger Goodell to testify.” Roberts reportedly recommended to the NFL that Elliott not be suspended.
- The NFL attempted to keep Roberts from testifying during the appeal hearing, arguing that her testimony was “unnecessary, consistent with [senior vice president for investigations Lisa] Friel’s testimony, and cumulative.” The judge determined that Roberts’ testimony was “everything but unnecessary, consistent, and cumulative,” leading to the conclusion that it was more evidence that the NFL was not attempting to be fair.
The NFL released a statement after the ruling that strongly suggested that this case will be in the courts for a while.
“We strongly believe that the investigation and evidence supported the Commissioner’s decision and that the process was meticulous and fair throughout,” the statement read. “We will review the decision in greater detail and discuss next steps with counsel, both in the district court and federal court of appeals.”
This is the third time that the NFL has lost high-profile disciplinary case in district court. In the two previous cases, the NFL eventually won on appeal.
The NFLPA also released a statement after the ruling that accused the NFL office of having a “continued lack of integrity.”
“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.”
This is now 3 stinging defeats for NFL in district court: 1) Peterson; 2) Brady; 3) Elliott. 1st two were reversed on appeal. Zeke TBD.
— Gabe Feldman (@SportsLawGuy) September 8, 2017
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