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NFL files motion to dismiss NFLPA's Elliott petition

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  • By Around The NFL staff NFL.com
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The NFL Players Association has filed a petition to prevent any potential suspension of Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott and is expected to file a temporary restraining order as well, according to court records obtained by NFL.com.

The NFLPA's request, which was filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Texas, alleges the "imminent" arbitration ruling regarding Elliott's six-game suspension is based upon an appeal process that has "deprived the union and Elliott of fundamental fairness."

If league-appointed arbitrator Harold Henderson rules to uphold the suspension, the court could issue a stay as it reviews the case -- a move that would allow Elliott to avoid being suspended at the start of the season.

Elliott was suspended six games by the NFL last month after a year-long investigation by the league into domestic violence accusations made against him by a woman claiming to be his former girlfriend. The three-day appeal hearing wrapped up Thursday and Henderson is expected to make a decision next week.

Elliott, 22, was never charged in the case and has denied the allegations.

Elliott's ban stems solely from the league's investigation into the domestic violence allegations made by Tiffany Thompson in July 2016, NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported. In a statement released by the league, Todd Jones, the NFL's Special Counsel for Conduct, said independent advisers who reviewed the evidence gathered by the league "were of the view that there is substantial and persuasive evidence supporting a finding that [Elliott] engaged in physical violence against Ms. Thompson on multiple occasions during the week of July 16, 2016."

If Elliott's full suspension is upheld on appeal, he would be barred from taking part in any team activities starting on Sept. 2 unless the court issues a stay.

UPDATE: The NFL has filed a motion to dismiss the NFLPA's petition, claiming the NFLPA made "an improper race to the courthouse" and arguing the NFLPA's motion is premature because the arbitrator has not ruled yet and thus, the court must dismiss the case, according to court records obtained by NFL.com. The NFL claims that a lawsuit can only be filed after the arbitrator has ruled.

The NFL also filed a motion opposing the NFLPA's request for a temporary restraining order, essentially arguing that even if the court decided to hear the case, it should still deny the temporary restraining order because courts must defer to the collectively bargained arbitration process and the arbitrator's decision. The NFL also argues that courts are not empowered to second-guess disciplinary decisions made by the commissioner and the arbitrator.

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