Ezekiel Elliott withdraws appeal, will serve suspension

Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott is dropping the appeal of his six-game suspension for violating the league's personal conduct policy, his agents said Wednesday in a statement obtained by NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport. In addition, the NFL Players Association dropped its lawsuit against the NFL.

Here is the statement from Elliott's agents, Rocky Arceneaux and Frank Salzano:

"In consultation with the NFL Players Assocation 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. 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."

The decision means Elliott will serve out the remaining five games of his six-game suspension. He won't be eligible to play again until Week 16 against the Seattle Seahawks on Dec. 24.

Elliott was facing long odds for success at this stage in his legal fight against the NFL. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied an NFLPA request for an injunction in the case earlier this month, essentially locking in Elliott's suspension for four games since the next court hearing wasn't scheduled until Dec. 1. Since a decision almost certainly would not have been made immediately after the hearing, there was a good chance he would have missed all six games until another ruling, according to NFL Network legal analyst Gabe Feldman.

The Cowboys told NFL Network's Jane Slater they have no comment on the decision.

The NFLPA released the following statement about its decision to drop its lawsuit:

"On behalf of all players, the Union appealed the suspension of Ezekiel Elliott to its logical conclusion and we are withdrawing our lawsuit. 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 was suspended by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in August following a year-long investigation into domestic violence allegations made by Tiffany Thompson, his former girlfriend. The league concluded he violated its personal conduct policy, which mandates a six-game suspension for first-time domestic violence violations. Elliott, 22, was never charged and has denied wrongdoing.

The NFLPA's lawsuit, which was filed on the same day Elliott's appeal before a league-appointed arbitrator ended, doesn't try to undermine the factual conclusions from the NFL's investigation -- it challenges the process the league undertook to suspend Elliott, Feldman said. The NFL wanted 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.

It's virtually the same argument the NFL deployed in ultimately successful appeals against Tom Brady during Deflategate and Adrian Peterson after he pleaded no contest to misdemeanor reckless assault.

Elliott, who tallied a league-best 1,631 rushing yards en route to a First Team All-Pro selection as a rookie, rushed for 783 yards and seven touchdowns prior to his suspension coming into effect last week. His decision to accept the suspension will allow him to play in the final two games of the regular season and the playoffs.

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