Ezekiel Elliott’s Dallas-based attorney Thomas Melsheimer believes the Dallas Cowboys‘ star running back has a good chance of playing all season, but he declined to predict it because of the uncertainty of the case.
Melsheimer said he feels good about Elliott securing another victory against the NFL with the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The NFL has asked for an emergency motion for a stay of the preliminary injunction against Elliott’s six-game suspension for violating the league’s personal conduct policy.
Melsheimer made his comments on Norm’s Club with Norm Hitzges and Donovan Lewis on 1310AM The Ticket.
“It’s going to be difficult to get the injunction stayed,” Melsheimer said. “It’s a long shot generally to stay a ruling by a lower court. I don’t think they are likely to be successful.”
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
He also doesn’t see the NFL seeking review in the U.S. Supreme Court if they get denied the stay.
“That would be like snow in August in Dallas. That’s just not gonna happen,” Melsheimer said. “I think they’ll have to regroup and decide how they want to proceed.”
Melsheimer said the case might go back before U.S. District Judge Amos Mazzant in Sherman for a full hearing.
He again believes the NFL will lose because Mazzant’s point of view has been clear and down the road, considering he granted the preliminary injunction and already rejected a stay request, citing fundamental unfairness.
“I think what’s the most likely outcome would be for the 5th Circuit to deny the requested relief and then to be back in front of the judge in Sherman and have a proceeding there where the merits of the process are hashed out in front of the judge,” Melsheimer said. “He makes a ruling, one way or another, and then there’s an appeal of that after a full and complete record. That’s what’s the most likely scenario, I think, which would put the ultimate resolution of this pretty far down the road, assuming that the judge maintains his current ruling.
“But again, what there has to be in the district court, assuming there’s no stay, is a hearing on the full merits of what happened. Remember, there’s been no evidence heard, there’s been no witnesses, there’s been nothing like that as a challenge to the arbitration proceeding. And that’s what the next step would be in front of Judge Mazzant in Sherman.”
Melsheimer said this is not a case where guilt or innocence will be decided, but whether the NFL handled the process fairly. He said the public might never know what truly happened between Elliott and former girlfriend Tiffany Thompson.
“What would be considered if it was fully adjudicated in front of Judge Mazzant would be what actually happened, the procedures, were they fair,” Melsheimer said. “The NFL would get a chance to defend what it did and the judge will get an opportunity to rule on a full record. Don’t have that yet, which is why we’re kind of in this period of preliminary injunction as it’s called, or temporary injunction, before there’s a full hearing.”
While the collective bargaining agreement gives NFL commissioner Roger Goodell discretion to make decisions regarding player discipline, Melsheimer doesn’t think the league got it right with Elliott in terms of having enough credible evidence to make a decision.
“This isn’t about limiting his discretion, per se, it’s really about if the rules say that he’s gotta base decisions on credible evidence, which is a pretty low standard, right?,” Melsheimer said. “Credible evidence does not mean beyond reasonable doubt. It doesn’t mean clear and convincing evidence. It just means credible evidence. You can argue and debate about what that means.”