Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott suffered a blow on Thursday when a federal appeals court lifted the injunction that prevented him from serving a six-game suspension over an alleged domestic violence incident.
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans voted 2-1 in favor of the NFL, which requested an emergency hearing after a district court in Texas blocked the suspension last month.
The appeals court ordered the Texas court to dismiss Elliott's case.
Pratik Shah, a lawyer representing the NFL, insisted the NFL Players Association filed its case in the wrong jurisdiction per last month's hearing in Sherman, Texas.
The Circuit Court agreed and said in its majority decision that the Players Association filed its lawsuit to have Elliott's suspension dissolved before an arbitrator could make his decision.
"At the time the NFLPA filed the complaint, it was possible the arbitrator could have issued a final decision that was favorable to Elliott," the three-judge panel wrote. "Elliott cannot show it was futile to wait for a final decision simply because he believed the arbitrator would issue an unfavorable ruling. As there was no final decision, Elliott had not yet exhausted the contracted-for remedies."
Elliott's representatives are expected to appeal Thursday's developments.
The Cowboys have a bye this week.
The 22-year-old Elliott was found to be in violation of the personal conduct policy by the NFL and the suspension was handed down on Aug. 11.
Elliott, who was not arrested nor charged in the case, maintains his innocence after being accused of assaulting his former girlfriend, Tiffany Thompson. The original punishment was issued by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell after a 13-month league investigation.
Elliott has rushed for 393 yards and two touchdowns in five games this season. He is averaging just 3.7 yards per carry, well below the 5.1-yard mark of last season when he led the NFL with 1,631 rushing yards as a rookie.