ARLINGTON, Texas — Ezekiel Elliott ran for 104 yards on 24 carries in the Dallas Cowboys’ 19-3 win against the New York Giants, but his biggest win came on Friday in a U.S. District court.
Judge Amos Mazzant granted Elliott an injunction and temporary restraining order that blocked the NFL’s six-game suspension of the running back for violating the personal conduct policy, writing the running back did not receive fundamental fairness in the appeal process.
“Just relieved for the fact that I finally get a fair trial,” Elliott said after Sunday’s game. “I finally get a chance to prove my innocence and just happy that I’ll get to be with the guys for as long as permitted and not miss time and not having to be away from them.”
Without the injunction or restraining order, Elliott would have missed the next six games. Now, he is likely to be eligible to play the full season.
“It’s definitely been a tough last 14 months,” Elliott said. “At times it’s gotten so hard you start to lose faith.”
A former girlfriend accused Elliott of domestic violence on separate occasions in July 2016 in Columbus, Ohio. The city attorney’s office did not pursue charges against Elliott, citing inconsistent evidence. The NFL’s personal conduct policy does not require the same burden of proof for a player to be found in violation. The league said it had persuasive evidence Elliott committed violence against Tiffany Thompson on multiple occasions in levying the suspension.
Harold Henderson denied Elliott’s appeal, but Judge Mazzant blocked the penalty.
“Just kind of your name getting dragged through the mud,” Elliott said when asked what the hardest part has been. “It’s been 14 months. Just kind of being associated with that, that’s tough.”
Asked if the process has been unfair to him, Elliot did not want to comment further.
“I’ve kind of stopped worrying about it because it’s not in my hands,” Elliott said. “At this point I’m focused right now on being the running back I need to be for this team to be successful so we can accomplish what we want to and remaining focused to keep playing at a high level.”
Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones attempted to deflect comments about Elliott’s appeal process. From the start, Jones said he did not anticipate Elliott being disciplined at all and he continues to support Elliott.
Jones said he has spoken with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell about the case but would not get into what they discussed. He said there is a difference between the Elliott case and the “Deflategate” case involving New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.
“Well, that was about whether or not the player had misrepresented to the commissioner,” Jones said. “We’ve got rules that say if you don’t tell the truth to the commissioner then you can get sanctioned. Those are rules. That’s not the case here. Zeke gave them everything plus some that he needed to have here. These are different issues. This has really to do with what our league’s responsibility is given the privilege that we have as a league, then what is our responsibility to really do it in a very good and accurate or acceptable way. We certainly stand to be critiqued and examined in that area.
“Everybody else is. Everybody who has ever made a decision in law is. So why should it surprise us that when we adjudicate or the equivalent of adjudicate over a privilege that we’ve gotten in our relationship with players and we don’t do it in a fair way. Why should it surprise anybody if we got slapped? It doesn’t surprise me. You have to be fair.”
Jones said everybody associated with the team was, “lifted by that decision. And it was a good one.”
Jones knows the Cowboys are a different team with Elliott than without him. He’s just glad he likely doesn’t have to see his team without Elliott this season.
“We’d miss Zeke if we don’t have him,” Jones said. “That’s all I can say. It’s inspirational for this team to know we have the chance to have him all year.”