By Robert Musantry,
Sports Business Writer
The Dallas Cowboys’ star running back, Ezekiel Elliott, had his domestic violence related suspension upheld this week after a hearing in Sherman, Texas. Harold Henderson, a former NFL executive, heard the case. Henderson ruled against Elliott, meaning the six game suspension handed down by Commissioner Rodger Goodell will be upheld.
However, because of the timing of the hearing, Elliott was originally supposed to be available for the Cowboy’s Week 1 game vs. the New York Giants. After the game on Sunday, Elliott will begin serving his suspension, which will last until November 5th. Elliott’s suspension, while upheld for now, can still be reduced. He is waiting on Judge Amos Mazzant to rule on a TRO, or temporary restraining order. . If granted, Elliott would be clear to play in Week 2, and possibly beyond.
This is just one of many high-profile domestic abuse cases the league has had to deal with in recent years, and they have not had a great track record. Perhaps the most famous (or infamous) case involved another running back, Ray Rice.
In 2014, Rice was suspended for two games, after a video was leaked showing him assaulting his girlfriend in an elevator. The suspension’s announcement was met with outrage, as many felt that it was far too light for the situation. Goodell admitted this, saying that he did not “get it right” and that future suspensions would be longer. He backed up his word, suspending Greg Hardy for ten games in 2015, but that suspension was later reduced to just four games.
Another, even more recent case involved kicker Josh Brown, who was suspended for one game, and once again the announcement was met with anger and disgust. In response, Goodell changed the suspension to an indefinite one. On Friday, ESPN reported that the league suspended the former Giants kicker an additional six games for his actions.
These cases have shown that the NFL’s process for handling domestic violence had varied quite a bit in the past.
UPDATE: Federal judge Amos Mazzant has granted Elliott a preliminary injunction, meaning that the NFL cannot enforce the six game suspension Goodell gave Elliott about one month ago. Similar to how an MLB appeal works, Elliott will be eligible to play until the issue is resolved in court, potentially enabling him to play for the entirety of the 2017 season.
This is not unlike what happened in the still controversial Tom Brady “Deflategate” case, where Brady won an appeal which enabled him to play for all of 2015, before his successful appeal was overturned, resulting in him serving out a four game suspension at the beginning of the 2016 season.
What this means for Elliott is unclear. Even if he plays all of this coming season, he may find himself missing parts of 2018. What is certain however, is that Cowboys fans have a lot of more to be positive about for this coming season.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, September 12th print edition.
Contact Robert at