Ezekiel Elliott will be allowed to play until his case is settled.
Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott had his legal motion for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction granted on Friday.
Federal judge Amos Mazzant of Texas’s Eastern District made the ruling on Friday afternoon, meaning Elliott will be allowed to play until the court makes a final ruling on his petition. The judge deemed facts in the case “unique and egregious” and that court intervention in the case was necessary.
Elliott was facing a six-game suspension from the NFL after the league found evidence of domestic violence by Elliott against his ex-girlfriend, Tiffany Thompson, in July 2016. Elliott has denied the claims, with his legal team pushing to have his suspension vacated and arguing that the process was unfair. On Tuesday, NFL arbitrator Harold Henderson denied his appeal, leaving the outcome to the court system.
Elliott was already cleared to play in Sunday’s opener between the Cowboys and Giants. He could in theory play out the rest of the season depending on when his court dates are set.
"We just learned of the Honorable Amoz Mazzant's decision to grand Mr. Elliott's request for a preliminary injunction staying the NFL's six-game suspension," Elliott's attorneys said in a statement. "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"
The NFLPA issued the following statement on Friday after the ruling, taking aim at the league’s leadership.
“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 NFLPA wrote.
A league spokesman released the following statement:
"We strongly believe that the investigation and evidence supported the Commissioner's decision and that the process was meticulous and fair throughout. We will review the decision in greater detail and discuss next steps with counsel, both in the district court and federal court of appeals."
Tom Brady’s Deflategate case set a form of precedent for players taking NFL suspensions to court, with Brady ultimately losing and serving his full four-game suspension, but a protracted legal process allowing him to play the entirety of the 2015 season. Brady’s lawyer on that case, Jeffrey Kessler, is also handling Elliott’s case.
Elliott posted on Instagram following the news, invoking rapper Meek Mill in a celebratory caption for a highlight video set to music.