As expected, a federal judge has denied the NFL's request for an emergency stay of the injunction he issued earlier this month that placed Ezekiel Elliott's six-game suspension on hold.
U.S. District Court Judge Amos Mazzant III blocked the league's request Monday as he continues to review the merits of a petition by the NFL Players Association to have Elliott's ban dissolved. In anticipation of the judge's decision, the NFL filed a motion for an emergency stay of the injunction with the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday in an attempt to enforce Elliott's suspension in the weeks ahead.
In his decision to deny the NFL's stay request, Mazzant stated it is "well-recognized Elliott will suffer injury if he has to serve an improper suspension while awaiting the resolution of the petition to vacate." He also stated "the NFL has shown little, if any harm" is being incurred by the league with Elliott's suspension on hold.
Mazzant's review of the accompanied Elliott case could take months, meaning the second-year Dallas Cowboys running back almost certainly will play the entire 2017 season unless a stay is issued by the higher court. The appeal to the 5th Circuit is an attempt to immediately enforce the suspension and confirm NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's authority to issue punishment based on "conduct detrimental" to the league as mandated in Article 46 of the collective bargaining agreement.
The NFL is asking for a ruling from the 5th Circuit by Tuesday at 11 a.m. ET and no later than Sept. 26 -- the Tuesday of Week 4 before the Cowboys start practice in preparation for that week's game against the Los Angeles Rams.
In his decision to grant a preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order, Mazzant agreed with the NFLPA that Elliott didn't receive a fair suspension appeal hearing from Goodell-appointed arbitrator Harold Henderson.
The NFL argues Mazzant's ruling interferes with a legally-binding labor deal that has been approved by the league and the union. It's the same argument the NFL deployed in ultimately successful appeals against Tom Brady during Deflategate and Adrian Peterson after he pleaded no contest to misdemeanor reckless assault.
Goodell suspended Elliott six games after a year-long investigation into domestic violence accusations made by his former girlfriend, Tiffany Thompson. The NFL found he violated the league's conduct policy, which mandates a six-game suspension for first-time domestic violence violations.
Elliott, 22, was never charged and has denied wrongdoing.