Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports



Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott was already going to play during Week 1 against the New York Giants. Now, it looks like Elliott will be available for most – if not all – of the 2017 season. On Friday, U.S. District Court judge Amos Mazzant granted the NFL Players Association's preliminary injunction request on the behalf of Elliott. Mazzant determined Elliott didn't "receive a fundamentally fair hearing, necessitating the court grant the request for preliminary injunction."

Elliott's original suspension of six games, which was handed down by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in August, would have made the running back unavailable for the Cowboy's Week 7 matchup against the San Francisco 49ers following Dallas' bye week. In October of 2016, Elliott rushed for 138 yards on 23 carries with a touchdown against the 49ers.

The original ruling had come after a year-long investigation by the NFL into multiple incidents involving Elliott and including domestic violence accusations made against him by a woman who identified herself as his former girlfriend.

That six-game suspension is now on hold. The NFL has an option to appeal the decision or file for an emergency stay, which would put the injunction on hold, but neither is expected.

While the 22-year-old Elliott was never charged with a crime, under the terms of the NFL's personal conduct policy, players who have committed domestic violence are subject to "a baseline" suspension of six games without pay. It does not matter if the player is convicted of a crime or not and is based solely on an investigation by the league.

This week, an arbitrator upheld the suspension of Elliott and denied his appeal. The NFL Players Association filed a petition to have the suspension nullified based on the process the league took to suspend Elliott and not the conclusions the NFL made based on its investigation.

"The question before the court is merely whether Elliott received a fundamentally fair hearing before the arbitrator," Mazzant wrote. "The answer is he did not. The court finds, based upon the injunction standard, that Elliott was denied a fundamentally fair hearing by [arbitrator Harold] Henderson's refusal to allow [former girlfriend Tiffany] Thompson and Goodell to testify at the arbitration hearing. Their absence ... effectively deprived Elliott of any chance to have a fundamentally fair hearing. The court grants the request for preliminary injunction."

The alleged victim claims that the running back assaulted her on five separate occasions over the course of a week in July of 2016, according to the Columbus City Attorney's Office. An NFL investigation was launched after the woman filed a police report last summer. Elliott was interviewed by NFL investigators last October and again in July while phone records and other pertinent documents were turned over in May.