NEW YORK — Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott’s half-season run from his six-game suspension ended Thursday when a federal appeals court refused to let him play while it considers his appeal.
A bespectacled Elliott in a suit and tie sat directly in front of a three-judge panel that considered a request from the NFL Players Association that he be allowed to play. But the court issued an order in less than an hour disqualifying him from Sunday’s game at Atlanta. It appears he’ll miss all of November’s games because the court set a Dec. 1 hearing for oral arguments on the merits of the union’s appeal.
The suspension was ordered in August as discipline after the league investigated allegations he used force against his girlfriend in the summer of 2016. Elliott vehemently denied the allegations as recently as last week, saying he was not an abuser.
A federal appeals court last month tossed out his court challenge in Texas, but the league’s request for a New York court to affirm that it had acted properly led a Manhattan judge to rule last month that Elliott must begin his suspension. After the union appealed, the lower-court decision was temporarily stayed, allowing Elliott to play last Sunday.
By Thursday’s ruling, Elliott had already left the courthouse without speaking to reporters, though he shook the hand of a person who shouted that he was a “huge fan” as Elliott raced down steps to a sport utility vehicle.
Although the league won the battle, the appeals judges took a few shots at the NFL for its handling of the suspension of a 22-year-old athlete who will be sidelined while he’s second in the league with 783 yards rushing and tied for the league lead with seven rushing touchdowns.
Circuit Judge Dennis Jacobs told Paul Clement, the NFL’s lawyer, that he found it odd that the issue was “such a frantic emergency that it can’t wait another couple months.”
“This is not just about Elliott and the Cowboys,” Clement responded, noting that 100 players across the league had been suspended for a total of 500 games over the last two seasons.
“Unfortunately, discipline is a fact of life in the NFL,” the lawyer said. “They all have an interest in seeing the same basic rules applied to them.”
Clement said it was important that players not be able to “game the system” by using the courts to delay suspensions until it is convenient for them or their teams.
Still, he noted, Elliott would start his suspension as the Cowboys enter the “easy part” of their schedule.
“This is the ideal time for him to serve the suspension,” Clement said.
Attorney Andrew Tulumello, arguing for the union, urged the 2nd Circuit to let Elliott play, saying missing games was irreparable harm and the union deserved additional time “to prove these events did not occur.”
The NFL did not comment on the court’s order, though it affirmed that the suspension was in place.
Goodell extension to be done soon
NEW YORK — The NFL expects a five-year contract extension with Commissioner Roger Goodell to be finalized soon, despite a threatened lawsuit by Dallas owner Jerry Jones.
NFL spokesman Joe Lockhart said Thursday that “our expectation is this will be wrapped up soon, but we can’t project an actual date.”
The extension would carry through 2024. Goodell became commissioner in 2006.
Lockhart added that the league is aware of Jones’ potential lawsuit, which apparently has been sparked by star running back Ezekiel Elliott‘s six-game suspension over alleged domestic violence.
All 32 owners voted in May to extend Goodell’s contract and authorized the compensation committee to work out the details. Goodell suspended Elliott in August after a yearlong NFL investigation. Prosecutors in Ohio declined to pursue the domestic violence case.
Jernigan, Eagles reach four-year extension
The Philadelphia Eagles have signed defensive tackle Tim Jernigan to a four-year extension.
A source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter the deal is worth $48 million deal, including $26 million fully guaranteed.
The Baltimore Ravens traded Jernigan to improve their third-round selection in the 2017 draft.
Jernigan has a team-high eight tackles for loss, 1½ sacks and five hurries on the season.
Lions guard in concussion protocol
ALLEN PARK, Mich. — Detroit guard T.J. Lang was going through the concussion protocol Thursday, three days after he played in a win at Green Bay. Coach Jim Caldwell elaborated on Lang’s situation at the end of his news conference, saying it wasn’t anything that had happened to Lang in practice.
“After the ballgame was over with, sometimes these things don’t manifest themselves (for) between 24 and 72 hours, and this is one of those cases,” Caldwell said.
Lang was listed on Wednesday’s injury report with an undisclosed illness.
Lang has started seven games this season and missed one with back issues. Detroit’s offensive line has looked better the past couple of games, allowing only three sacks after giving up 17 over the previous three games. The Lions have struggled near the goal line, however, and their running game still isn’t consistent.
Dolphins’ McDonald back after suspension
DAVIE, Fla. — Safety T.J. McDonald completed his eight-game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy, and he’s expected to start in his Dolphins debut Monday night at Carolina.
Dolphins coach Adam Gase says he believes McDonald provides a significant upgrade for a defense that has backslid of late, allowing 81 points in the past three games. McDonald watched them all from start to finish, even a blowout loss at Baltimore.
The Dolphins (4-4) signed McDonald as a free agent in March after his suspension had been imposed for his arrest in Los Angeles on suspicion of driving under the influence.
- Gase says right tackle
- Ja’Wuan James
- ‘ left hamstring injury could be a long-term issue, and he’s undergoing further medical evaluation.
James was hurt in the loss Sunday to Oakland and sat out Thursday’s practice, the first since that game. Miami next plays at Carolina on Monday.
James’ absence could lead to some shuffling on the line. Guard Ted Larsen returned to practice last week after recovering from a torn biceps and is expected to move into the starting lineup.
- Dolphins defensive tackle
- Ndamukong Suh
- sat out practice Thursday because of a knee injury but said he hopes to play Monday at Carolina. Suh left Sunday’s loss to Oakland with the injury, and then returned and finished the game. He hasn’t missed a start because of injury in his eight-year career.
Patriots: New England claimed tight end Martellus Bennett off waivers on Thursday, a day after he was cut by the Green Bay Packers for “failing to disclose a physical condition.”
He didn’t play in the Packers’ loss on Monday to Detroit after being listed as doubtful for the game.
The 30-year-old then sat out practice Wednesday and was listed as having a shoulder injury as Green Bay began preparations for its game Sunday at Chicago. Now, if he passes a physical, he will be reunited with the team he won a Super Bowl with last season.
Browns: Cleveland waived defensive back Ibraheim Campbell with an injury designation. Campbell, who started two games at safety this season, injured a hamstring during practice on Wednesday. The club signed defensive back Derron Smith off Cincinnati’s practice squad. The 5-foot-10, 200-pound Smith appeared in 31 games for the Bengals.