Ezekiel Elliott to Begin Serving 6-Game Suspension Sunday
On Thursday afternoon, the 2nd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in New York City denied the emergency injunction request filed by the NFL Players Association on behalf of Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott. This means that Elliott’s original six-game suspension has been upheld. Elliott will begin his 6-game ban with this Sunday’s game against the Atlanta Falcons.
Back in August, Elliott was suspended by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell for 6 games without pay for violating the league’s personal conduct policy. The suspension came on the heels of a nearly year-long investigation by the league into domestic abuse allegations made by Elliott’s ex-girlfriend, Tiffany Thompson.
Thompson filed a police report in the summer of 2016 alleging that several instances of physical violence between she and Elliott had occurred. Charges were eventually dropped, but that did not stop the NFL from conducting its own investigation into the matter. The league looked at all evidence, including text messages and other phone records. The NFL also interviewed Thompson and consulted medical experts in connection with the allegations.
Rather than accepting the terms of his suspension and serving his six-game ban early in the season, Elliott opted to appeal, which led to a lengthy legal process.
Last week, Elliott was granted a temporary stay of the suspension, which meant he was eligible to play in the Cowboys’ 28-17 win over the Kansas City Chiefs. Elliott has played in all 8 of the Cowboys’ games this season as a result of his decision to appeal.
To simplify things, this latest ruling is final. Elliott will be forced to sit for each of the Cowboys’ next six games. After the team travels to Atlanta to take on the defending NFC champion Falcons, the Cowboys will face the Philadelphia Eagles, Los Angeles Chargers, Washington Redskins, New York Giants and Oakland Raiders without Elliott. Elliott will be eligible to return to the team in Week 16 for the Cowboys’ game against the Seattle Seahawks on Christmas Eve.
Elliott, who was the No. 4 overall selection in the 2016 NFL Draft out of Ohio State, has rushed for 783 yards on 191 attempts with 7 touchdowns so far this season. He has also caught 19 passes for 210 yards with a pair of scores. As a rookie last season, Elliott led the NFL with 1,631 yards rushing along with 15 touchdowns. He was a First-Team All-Pro during his rookie campaign.
Without their top running back, the Cowboys will now turn to a running back by committee situation. Alfred Morris, Darren McFadden and Rod Smith should all see some time in the backfield. Quarterback Dak Prescott is actually the Cowboys’ second-leading rusher on the season, with 195 yards on the ground. Morris ranks third with 116 yards on just 14 carries. Smith has carried the ball 10 times for 69 yards, while McFadden has yet to see the field.
The Cowboys are 5-3 through 8 games on the season, which is good for the second-best record in the NFC East, trailing only the 8-1 Eagles. If the season ended today, Dallas would enter the postseason as the No. 6 seed in the NFC playoffs, with a date on the road against the Los Angeles Rams in the Wild Card Round.
Last season, the Cowboys finished 13-3, which was the best mark in the conference. Earlier on Thursday, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones hired high-powered attorney David Boies. Jones is threatening to sue the NFL and several of the league’s owners is a contract extension for commissioner Goodell is approved by the league’s compensation committee. Jones is reportedly dismayed at the way the commissioner has handled the Elliott situation, as well as the ongoing national anthem protests that have sparked nationwide controversy.
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