Ezekiel Elliott Will Play In Week 1, With Ruling On Suspension Expected Friday
A ruling is not expected until Friday on the temporary restraining order to block Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott’s six-game suspension, but Elliott will be "allowed to practice and play with the Cowboys until next Tuesday regardless of the decision," according to Clarence Hill Jr. of the FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM. Meanwhile, arbitrator Harold Henderson last night "upheld the league’s six-game suspension following last week’s appeals hearing" in N.Y. The suspension is set to begin next week if the "restraining order is not granted." The NFL also filed a lawsuit in New York federal court yesterday "seeking to confirm the arbitration ruling, saying the proper jurisdiction for the case is New York, not Texas, where Elliott’s representatives filed suit." Henderson was direct in his ruling, telling Elliott in a letter that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell "followed the process for imposing judgment 'step by step.'" Whether Elliott has his day in federal court will be decided by U.S. District Judge Amos Mazzant on Friday when he will "render a decision on whether to grant the TRO to block the suspension and hear the case." Elliott will be play in Sunday's season opener against the Giants because Henderson "did not make his decision on the appeal" before 3:00pm CT yesterday (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 9/6). In Dallas, Kate Hairopoulos in a front-page piece notes Mazzant will "weigh whether Elliott meets the criteria required to receive an injunction, which would likely keep Elliott on the field for the remainder of the NFL season as the league appeals." Elliott "must be able to prove four elements: a likelihood of success on the merits of the case; a substantial threat to suffering irreparable harm; threatened injury that outweighs any damage the injunction might cause the NFL; and no disservice to the public interest from the injunction" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 9/6).
LAW & ORDER: THE MMQB's Albert Breer writes the NFL and NFLPA are "about to duke it out in court again." The next steps in the Elliott case will put the NFL’s investigative arm "under the judicial microscope again." The focus likely will be on "lead investigator Kia Roberts’ role in the process." The NFLPA "claimed her opinion that Elliott should not be suspended was kept from Goodell and his staff, which the NFL vehemently denied." The NFLPA is "examining public statements from the league that may implicate Goodell" (MMQB.SI.com, 9/6). In DC, Mark Maske notes the NFLPA has "challenged disciplinary measures" taken against Ray Rice, Greg Hardy, Adrian Peterson and Tom Brady, either through the sport’s "internal procedures under its collective bargaining agreement or in court, with mixed success." Brady and the NFLPA "scored a legal victory when Brady’s four-game suspension for his alleged role in the Deflategate scandal was overturned by a federal judge, keeping the quarterback eligible to play" the entire '15 season. But Brady "sat out the first four games of last season after the NFL prevailed on appeal and the suspension was reinstated" (WASHINGTON POST, 9/6). In N.Y., Steve Serby writes people should not be "surprised if Elliott follows Brady’s legal blueprint and gets his suspension delayed" until after the '17 season (N.Y. POST, 9/6).
THE BRADY BUNCH: In Dallas, Tim Cowlishaw writes Elliott and his team "may be piling up wins in the court of public opinion these days." However, the "upper hand belongs" to Goodell. As long as Goodell "wants Elliott suspended, at some point Elliott will be watching six Cowboys games from home." Going to court now will "take months, perhaps more if we base it on" the Brady Deflategate proceedings. Cowlishaw: "Remember what finally happened there. ... The same is almost certain to be true for Elliott as he wages a long, expensive battle with the league" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 9/6). NBCSN's Chris Simms said, "I feel like we're reliving the Deflategate issue all over again, but just a different issue" ("PFT," NBCSN, 9/6). YAHOO SPORTS' Charles Robinson writes under the header, "If Tom Brady Couldn't Beat The NFL, Then What Chance Does Ezekiel Elliott Have In Court?" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 9/6).
ALL ABOUT BUSINESS: ESPN’s Will Cain noted the Elliott situation "wouldn’t have happened ... as recently as five years ago and definitely would not have happened 10 years ago." Cain: "What changed? Why are we doing that today?" ESPN's Mike Golic: “They’re a business and don’t want to lose people -- or more importantly, advertisers. They feel that if they did nothing and then people started saying, ‘Well, here’s the rich athlete buying their way out of a problem so they get to keep playing because the police could do nothing because there were no witnesses,’ and then the advertisers say, ‘You know what, I don’t really like what’s going on in the league now, we’re going to pull our advertisements. You’re not going to make your $10 billion, $12 billion a year,' that's it." Golic added, "They’re there to make money. They’re a business and that’s one way to make people think, ‘Hey, we don’t want this in our league and we’re going to do something about it’” (“Mike & Mike,” ESPN Radio, 9/6).
SAME OLD STORY: USA TODAY's Nancy Armour writes, "Nothing heralds the start of a new NFL season like another court battle between the league and its players’ union." For the fifth time since the CBA took effect in '11, the season begins "under the cloud of the NFL and the union sniping at each other via court documents, social media and grandiose statements." It is the "same nonsense year after year and, no matter who wins in court, the NFL and NFLPA both wind up losers" (USA TODAY, 9/6). USA TODAY's Jarrett Bell writes, "What a way to build hype for a new season." These type of suspensions have become an "increasingly common sidebar, casting a pall on the NFL’s kickoff campaign" (USA TODAY, 9/6). THE MMQB's Breer writes fans get what the NFL and Elliott "wanted to avoid: the case being central to one of Week 1’s two showcase games, giving NBC a topic it will have to address that hardly shines a positive light on anyone involved" (SI.com, 9/6).