NFL Players Association lawyers representing Ezekiel Elliott filed a motion for a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction in U.S. district court in an effort to get the Dallas Cowboys running back on the field as soon as possible. The union asked the court for a decision to be made by 4 p.m. ET Tuesday.
"The NFLPA and Elliott, therefore, are stuck in procedural limbo and must turn to this Court for preliminary injunctive relief to prevent imminent and irreparable harm to Elliott," NFLPA lawyers wrote in their request.
The filing in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York came prior to a Tuesday ruling from 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that denied the NFLPA's motion to recall a mandate that would have allowed Elliott to pursue a rehearing with the 5th Circuit.
The union also is still pursuing a full-panel rehearing of their case with the 5th Circuit. However, the NFLPA's chances for success in the 5th Circuit remain small. Full-panel appeal rehearings -- also known as rehearings en banc -- are rare. The 5th Circuit granted six en banc rehearings out of 200 petitions last year, Gabe Feldman, NFL Network legal analyst and director of the Tulane University Sports Law Program, said. A federal appeals court rejected Tom Brady's en banc request during Deflategate.
Elliott's suspension formally restarted Thursday after the 5th Circuit ruled 2-1 in favor of the NFL in its appeal of the NFLPA's lawsuit to have the running back's six-game ban dissolved. The suspension currently is scheduled to end Friday, Nov. 24. Unless lawyers for Elliott and NFLPA can get the suspension put on hold, Elliott will miss games against the San Francisco 49ers, Washington Redskins, Kansas City Chiefs, Atlanta Falcons, Philadelphia Eagles and Los Angeles Chargers. The next game he'd be eligible to play would be against the Redskins at home on Nov. 30.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Elliott in August after a year-long investigation into domestic violence accusations made by his former girlfriend, Tiffany Thompson. The NFL found he violated the league's conduct policy, which mandates a six-game suspension for first-time domestic violence violations. In a letter sent to Elliott, the NFL stated it believed he used physical force against Thompson three times over a span of five days in July 2016.
The NFLPA is challenging the process the NFL undertook to suspend Elliott -- not the factual conclusions from its investigation, Feldman said. The NFL's appeal is part of an attempt to enforce Elliott's suspension this season and confirm Goodell's authority to issue punishment based on "conduct detrimental" to the league as mandated in Article 46 of the collective bargaining agreement.
"This is part of the ongoing fight between the players association and the league over the power of the commissioner," Feldman said. "We have seen the NFL go to great lengths in court to affirm and strengthen and maintain they believe in what they collectively bargained for. And we've seen the players association fight and say that the commissioner has overreached and they want to protect the rights of the players ... [The NFL] doesn't want precedent out there that says a court can interfere with the commissioner's decision or with an arbitrator's decision."