The NFL filed a pair of motions late Monday against suspended Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott and his federal lawsuit against the league.
One filing argued that Elliott does not have legal standing to challenge his six-game suspension for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy in federal court.
The league also filed a motion to dismiss Elliott’s pursuit of a preliminary injunction to block the suspension in advance of court hearing on the matter, set for 5 p.m. Tuesday in Sherman, Texas.
That NFL arbitrator Harold Henderson has yet to rule on Elliott’s appeal of the six-game suspension is a key aspect to the filings against the star running back and the NFL Players Association.
“The NFLPA also lacks standing to seek a contingent order preemptively challenging an award that clearly has not yet (and may never) cause it or Ezekiel Elliott any harm,” Eric Gambrell, a lawyer representing the NFL, wrote in one of the filings. “And the NFLPA’s claim is unripe to boot, as even the NFLPA acknowledges that the arbitrator’s forthcoming award could still afford the NFLPA all the relief it seeks.”
If Henderson doesn’t issue a ruling by Tuesday at 3 p.m., there is a great chance Elliott will be available for Sunday’s season opener against the New York Giants, at least.
For competitive reasons, the NFL doesn’t like to suspend players after Tuesday of game week.
But a delay in the decision would wreak havoc on his court case.
Amos Mazzant, a U.S District Court judge for the Eastern District of Texas, scheduled a motion hearing for Tuesday at 5 p.m. on the temporary injunction. But if Henderson hasn’t ruled yet, he could simply dismiss the case.
Simply put, Elliott cannot prove cannot prove irreparable harm, which is the key element judges consider when ruling on a preliminary injunction, because the result of his appeal has not been announced.
The NFL also challenged the bombshell piece of the NFLPA’s filing last week regarding lead investigator Kia Roberts’ concerns about Elliott’s accuser Tiffany Thompson’s credibility and recommending no suspension.
“That claim, which remains under review by the arbitrator, is wrong as a factual matter because all of the evidence underlying Roberts’ concerns was specifically included in the investigative report and the commissioner was specifically informed of Roberts’ concerns,” Gambrell wrote.
The NFL also pointed to federal court case with New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady when a federal appeals count ruled that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell had the authority to suspend him, thus concluding that Elliott’s suit has no standing or merit.
“Settled precedent makes clear that federal district courts ‘have no business weighing the merits of the grievance (or) considering whether there is equity in a particular claim,” said Gambrell in the filing.
Per a source, Elliott was hopeful of success in the federal lawsuit but also felt it was uphill battle against the NFL.
If the judge dismisses the case because Henderson hadn’t ruled yet on the appeal, look for Elliott to race to another federal court to refile once the decision is announced.