A district court judge in Texas has granted Ezekiel Elliott’s request for a temporary restraining order, which should clear the way for the Dallas Cowboys running back to remain on the field while he tries to get his six-game suspension overturned in court.
"Based upon the preliminary injunction standard, the Court finds, that Elliott did not receive a fundamentally fair hearing, necessitating the Court grant the request for preliminary injunction," the ruling stated.
An NFL arbitrator earlier this week upheld the six-game suspension commissioner Roger Goodell gave Elliott last month for a violation of the league’s personal conduct policy. It was scheduled to begin in Week 2.
The NFL’s next move would be to appeal district judge Amos Mazzant’s ruling to a 5th circuit appeals court, but that process would take months.
Elliott would likely get to stay with the Cowboys while the case remains in the legal system, much like New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was allowed to play in 2015 while his Deflategate case was debated. Brady ultimately served his four-game suspension in 2016 after losing in a federal appeals court.
Because of the timing of NFL arbitrator Harold Henderson’s ruling Tuesday evening, while Elliott’s hearing in a Sherman, Texas, courtroom was underway, the running back will be permitted to play in Sunday’s season opener against the New York Giants.
Elliott’s former girlfriend accused him of domestic violence in July 2016. Though the running back was never arrested or charged, Goodell believed the NFL’s investigation revealed enough evidence to warrant the six-game ban.
Elliott has maintained his innocence and has made it clear that he and the NFL Players Association will pursue every legal avenue in a quest for exoneration.
"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," the NFLPA said in a statement after the ruling was handed down. "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.
Follow Lindsay H. Jones on Twitter @bylindsayhjones.