Judge Failla’s ruling stated that the N.F.L.’s arbitrator had given Elliott ample opportunity to challenge the decision and that “the N.F.L.P.A. has failed to demonstrate a substantial question warranting the extraordinary remedy of injunctive relief or a balance of hardships that decidedly weighs in its favor.”
The next step would most likely be for Elliott and the players’ union to appeal the decision to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and ask for Judge Failla’s ruling to be stayed until he can receive a hearing from that court.
Cowboys Coach Jason Garrett held his weekly news conference earlier Monday and said that the team would not have a comment after the ruling, but he acknowledged that the Cowboys had planned for all eventualities.
“We have some veteran running backs,” he said. “We have some depth at that position. It’s not like we’re just living this day and we don’t think about the future at all — you have to do that. I think you build your team that way at all positions.”
Elliott began the season with the suspension hanging over his head, and initially it seemed to be affecting him. He had just 277 rushing yards through the first four games, and the Cowboys were 2-2 after ending last season 13-3.
He seemed to rediscover his form in a Week 5 loss to Green Bay, and in the past two weeks he exploded for 297 rushing yards and five touchdowns total, re-establishing himself as the centerpiece of the team’s offense and leading the Cowboys back over .500. His absence, if he is not able to further delay the suspension, would drastically affect his team’s playoff hopes.
Elliott’s challenge of the suspension, which has come through legal action by the players’ association, rested on the argument that the investigation and appeal had been unfair to him.
A federal judge in Texas agreed with that notion, issuing an injunction in early September that blocked the suspension from starting. The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit threw out that injunction this month in a 2-1 ruling, saying that the lawsuit on Elliott’s behalf was “premature” because all the procedures available under the league’s collective bargaining agreement had yet to be exhausted.
The district court had issued a temporary restraining order on Oct. 19 to give Judge Failla time to set a hearing date, but with her decision on Monday, Elliott is quickly running out of options before the N.F.L. is able to enforce the suspension.
Dallas is scheduled to host the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, and if Elliott is not available the team will turn to the veteran backups Darren McFadden and Alfred Morris.
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