The NFL Players Association says there would be no irreparable harm to the NFL if Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott continues to play while the legal battle over his six-game suspension makes its way through the court.
The NFLPA made its argument through a legal filing Saturday with the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, saying Elliott “stands to lose nearly half a season in a career that is notoriously short and precarious, and competitive opportunities are irretrievable once lost.”
The filing is the latest in the back and forth between the NFL and its players’ union over the Elliott suspension and its larger impact on league discipline.
On Friday, the NFL asked the appeals court to overrule the Texas federal judge who granted a preliminary injunction of Elliott’s suspension. The league is seeking a decision as early as Tuesday and as late as Sept. 26.
The NFLPA called the NFL’s filing premature and reiterated its stance that the league’s discipline process is unfair.
Elliott, 22, was suspended by commissioner Roger Goodell in August after the league concluded following a yearlong investigation that he had several physical confrontations in the summer of 2016 in Ohio with his girlfriend at the time. The NFL players’ union sued on Elliott’s behalf.
In Friday’s emergency motion, the NFL reiterated previous arguments that Elliott’s attorneys sued prematurely because arbitrator Harold Henderson had yet to rule on the running back’s appeal of the suspension. The appeal was denied the same day as arguments over the request for an injunction came from U.S. District Judge Amos Mazzant in Sherman, Texas, about 65 miles north of Dallas.
The NFL ultimately wants to get the case moved from Texas to the Southern District of New York. That was the venue for the league’s successful appeal after a federal judge had overturned New England quarterback Tom Brady‘s four-game suspension in the Deflategate case.
The NFL believed Elliott used “physical force” three times in a span of five days in a Columbus, Ohio, apartment resulting in injuries to Tiffany Thompson’s face, neck, shoulders, arms, hands, wrists, hips and knees. Prosecutors in Columbus decided about a year ago not to pursue the case in the city where Elliott starred for Ohio State, but the NFL kept the investigation open. The league said its conclusions were based on photographs, text messages and other electronic evidence.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.