A U.S. District Court judge in Texas denied the NFL's appeal for a stay of the preliminary injunction granted to Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott allowing him to continue to play while his six-game suspension goes through the courts.
Judge Amos Mazzant's ruling on Monday means the case will now move to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, where the NFL has already filed an appeal in the case.
"In its Emergency Motion in front of the Court, the NFL is complaining that the Court essentially issued a premature order by failing to wait for the arbitrator to issue his ruling and therefore, lacked subject matter jurisdiction," Mazzant said in the decision Monday. "Oddly, the NFL is now seeking expedited relief from the Fifth Circuit without first waiting for the Court to rule on the identical issue. The irony is not lost on the Court."
The NFL filed the emergency motion with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit on Friday to seek the stay. The league asked for a ruling by Tuesday but no later than Sept. 26 in a filing to stay the preliminary injunction that blocked Elliott's suspension for violating the league's personal conduct policy.
Elliott, 22, was suspended by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on Aug. 11 following a 13-month league investigation that the running back had multiple physical confrontations in the summer of 2016 in Ohio with his girlfriend at the time.
The 22-year-old Elliott was found to be in violation of the personal conduct policy by the NFL and his appeal through league arbitration channels was denied by Harold Henderson. Just over 48 hours before kickoff of the season opener, Elliott and the NFL Players Association scored a temporary victory when the Fifth Circuit judge in Texas granted a temporary injunction.
The union argued that the league's motion for a stay should be denied on the grounds that Elliott and the Cowboys will suffer irreparable harm if the second-year running back is forced to serve the suspension while the legal battle is being waged.
In its request for an emergency motion, the NFL reiterated previous arguments that Elliott's attorneys sued prematurely because the arbitrator had yet to rule on the running back's appeal of the suspension.
Elliott, who was not arrested nor charged in the case, maintains his innocence after being accused of assaulting his former girlfriend, Tiffany Thompson.
Elliott rushing for 104 yards on 24 carries in the Cowboys' 19-3 win against the Giants in the season opener, but on Sunday he ran for just eight yards on nine carries in the 42-17 blowout loss to the Denver Broncos.