Federal appeals panel hears arguments in Zeke case

A federal appeals panel heard oral arguments from NFL and NFL Players Association lawyers Monday as part of the league's appeal to lift an injunction order than has put Ezekiel Elliott's suspension on hold.

A three-judge panel with the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans is reviewing the NFL's request for an emergency stay of an injunction issued by a lower court in the Elliott case. If the league is granted a stay or the injunction is lifted, the NFL could enforce Elliott's six-game suspension immediately. The court also could uphold the injunction that likely would allow Elliott to play for the rest of 2017.

One of the NFL's arguments for an emergency stay in the decision centers upon the league being subject to irreparable harm if it isn't allowed to enforce Elliott's suspension as soon as possible.

On the NFLPA's side, its lawyers intend to seek discovery in the case in order to determine if the "credible evidence" standard had been met and find out what NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell knew about the league's investigation before he issued the suspension.

The NFL also is seeking for the court to "promptly" dismiss the NFLPA's lawsuit to have Elliott's six-game suspension dissolved.

"This Court has followed the same course many other times, correctly recognizing that there is no reason to prolong hopelessly doomed proceedings, and that cases in which federal courts cannot grant relief should be promptly dismissed," NFL attorneys wrote in a filing with the 5th Circuit last week.

U.S. District Court Judge Amos Mazzant III granted the NFLPA's injunction request as he scrutinizes the merits of the union's petition.

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.

In his decision to grant the injunction that blocked the suspension, Mazzant agreed with the NFLPA that Elliott didn't receive a fair suspension appeal hearing from Goodell-appointed arbitrator Harold Henderson.

Goodell suspended Elliott after a year-long investigation into domestic violence accusations made by his former girlfriend, Tiffany Thompson. The league 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 informing him of suspension in August, the NFL stated it believed he used physical force against Thompson three times over a span of five days in July 2016.

Elliott, 22, was never charged and has denied wrongdoing.

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