- League spokesman Joe Lockhart told reporters Wednesday that it’s not necessarily “likely” that the Cowboys running back will play all of 2017 as his appeal is heard
Ezekiel Elliott was on the field for Week 1 of the 2017 football season, rushing for 104 yards to help the Cowboys to a 19-3 win over the Giants. How many more games will the running back play in the 2017 season?
The short answer: Elliott is almost certain to play in Week 2 against the Broncos, but the NFL is not ruling out him serving his six-game suspension at some point this season.
Elliott was suspended by the NFL under its personal conduct policy after being accused by a former girlfriend of domestic violence on multiple occasions in July 2016 in Columbus, Ohio. A preliminary injunction granted last week by U.S. District Judge Amos L. Mazzant III put a hold on his suspension, and allowed Elliott to play, as he appeals the NFL’s discipline in court. On Monday the NFL sought a reversal of that decision by asking Mazzant for an emergency stay of the injunction and filing an appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
Multiple media outlets have characterized Elliott as “likely” to play the remainder of the 2017 season as his case now moves through a court system that is not beholden to the NFL calendar. In the Deflategate case, for example, Tom Brady played the entire 2015 season after a district court vacated his suspension from the NFL, but ended up sitting out the four games to start the 2016 season when the U.S. Court of Appeals reinstated the NFL’s discipline. But league spokesperson Joe Lockhart maintained Wednesday on a conference call with reporters that it’s possible Elliott does sit out games this season.
“I have read in a number of places the following phrase: ‘He is likely to play the entire season.’ I don’t know that is actually the case,” Lockhart said. “It is possible. But, I don’t know that I would go as far as saying ‘likely.’ ”
What is likely, however—or pretty much certain—that Elliott will at least play Week 2. The NFL Players Association will have until the end of the day Wednesday to file a response to the league’s request for a stay of the injunction from Mazzant, after which the NFL will have until the end of the day Friday to file its response. Because of that timeline, it is fair to expect Elliott will be on the field in Denver Sunday.
“I would assume that he will play Sunday,” Lockhart said. “There are important steps in the legal process that will play out this week that we don’t think will affect his ability to play Sunday. I don’t want to say that with certainty to get out ahead of the court; they could certainly make a decision that might change that, but it is not our expectation.”
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