Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott continues to maintain his innocence against domestic violence allegations made by former girlfriend Tiffany Thompson.
But he has finally accepted the reality of having no chance of winning a legal fight in federal court against the NFL in hopes getting a six-game suspension overturned and hopefully clearing his name.
In a statement through his lawyers, Rocky Arceneaux and Frank Salzano, Elliott announced Wednesday that he was foregoing any further appeals and will serve the remaining suspension.
Elliott final bid for a preliminary injunction was rejected by the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals last Thursday, reinstating in his suspension, beginning with last Sunday's 27-7 loss to the Atlanta Falcons.
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But with a Dec. 1 date in the Second Circuit to hear his full appeal, with a possible return after four games, he conceded the inevitable.
“In consultation with the NFLPA and his lawyers, and after careful deliberation and review of the recent Second Circuit decisions, Mr. Elliott has decided to forego any further appeals and will serve the remaining suspension. This decision arises from a practical assessment of the current legal landscape,” the statement from his attorney's read. “Mr. Elliott's desire for closure in this matter is in his best interests, as well as the best interests of his teammates, family and friends. This decision is in no way an admission of any wrongdoing, and Mr. Elliott is pleased that the legal fight mounted by him and his team resulted in the disclosure of many hidden truths regarding this matter, as well public exposure of the NFL's mismanagement of its disciplinary process. Mr. Elliott will maximize this time away from the game and come back even stronger both on and off the field. He intends to release a final personal statement in the upcoming weeks and until then we have no further comment.”
Elliott was initially suspended Aug. 11, but has been allowed to play because of a dizzying array of injunctions, restraining orders and court rulings after his initial appeal was rejected by NFL arbitrator Harold Henderson.
Elliott was given a preliminary injunction by Judge Amos Mazzant of the Eastern District of Texas, allowing him to play the first five games, before it was thrown out by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans because of improper jurisdiction.
He was then given a 14-day temporary restraining order based on irreparable harm by Judge Paul Crotty of the Southern District of New York, allowing him to play two more games, before Judge Katherine Failla rejected a motion for a preliminary injunction on Oct. 30, reinstating the suspension.
Elliott filed an emergency appeal with the 2nd Circuit in hopes of overturning Failla’s decision and was given an emergency stay on Nov. 3, allowing him to play in the 28-17 victory against the Kansas City Chiefs on Nov. 5.
Elliott attended a hearing in New York on Nov. 9 where a three-judge panel denied his motion for a preliminary junction, but set a Dec. 1 date to hear his full appeal. Elliott decided Thursday not to pursue that Dec. 1 hearing date.
The NFL Players Association supported Elliott in its fight against the NFL and believes it highlighted faults in the league’s disciplinary process, which it calls “sham.”
But the NFLPA also acknowledged the case was no longer worth fighting because off the upper hand the NFL has in court, which has consistently upheld the league commissioner Roger Goodell’s power and authority to discipline under the collective bargaining agreement.
“On behalf of all players, the Union appealed the suspension of Ezekiel Elliott to its logical conclusion and we are withdrawing our lawsuit,” the NFLPA said in it’s own statement. “Our vigilant fight on behalf of Ezekiel once again exposed the NFL’s disciplinary process as a sham and a lie. They hired several former federal prosecutors, brought in ‘experts’ and imposed a process with the stated goal of ‘getting it right,’’ yet the management council refuses to step in and stop repeated manipulation of an already awful League-imposed system.”
Elliott is not set to return to the Cowboys until the Dec. 24 game against the Seattle Seahawks after missing the next five games against the Philadelphia Eagles, the Los Angeles Chargers, the Washington Redskins, the New York Giants and the Oakland Raiders.
He has been barred for the team’s headquarters bu plans to spent at least some of his time away out of the country to get away and train.
Elliott also has some league mandates to adhere to.
While under suspension he must not have any further adverse involvement with law enforcement and not commit any additional violations of league policies or face further suspension and possible banishment.
Additionally, he is required to get a clinical evaluation from a qualified professional and inform the league of a couseling or treatment plan if recommended.
The Cowboys were already prepared to play without Elliott, who is currently third in the NFL in rushing with 783 yards a league-leading seven rushing touchdowns.
Alfred Morris will continue to start in his place with Rod Smith and Darren McFadden contributing in a rotation.