FRISCO, Texas — A federal appeals court cleared the way Thursday for the NFL to impose a six-game suspension on Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott over domestic violence allegations, siding with the league in the latest high-profile fight over its ability to punish players for off-field behavior.
In a 2-1 decision, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel in New Orleans granted the league's emergency request to set aside an injunction and ordered a district court in Texas to dismiss Elliott's case.
Further appeals were possible. One of Elliott's representatives didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.
A federal judge in Texas issued the injunction blocking the suspension last month, agreeing with the players' union attorneys who argued that the investigation of the allegations in Ohio and a subsequent appeal were unfair to Elliott.
The NFL countered that it followed procedures under the league's labor deal and that the union improperly filed suit before the appeals process was complete.
The most likely destination for further legal challenges from players' union attorneys is with the Southern District of New York. The NFL filed in that federal court after Elliott's NFL appeal was denied by arbitrator Harold Henderson last month.
If Elliott's legal team can't put the suspension on hold again, it can begin Oct. 22 at San Francisco and Elliott won't be eligible to play until Nov. 30 at home against Washington, a Thursday night game the week after Thanksgiving. Elliott played the first five games.
Last year's NFL rushing leader as a rookie, Elliott was suspended in August by commissioner Roger Goodell after the league concluded following a yearlong investigation that he had several physical confrontations in the summer of 2016 with Tiffany Thompson, his girlfriend at the time.
Prosecutors in Columbus, Ohio, decided not to pursue the case in the city where Elliott starred for Ohio State, citing conflicting evidence.
GIANTS DB SUSPENSION STAYS: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie met with Giants coach Ben McAdoo, who told the cornerback his suspension was indefinite.
Neither Rodgers-Cromartie nor McAdoo was immediately available for comment.
Players can be suspended a maximum of four weeks under the collective bargaining agreement.
Rodgers-Cromartie was suspended Wednesday for leaving the team facility before practice. He had been told by McAdoo that he would be inactive for Sunday's game in Denver because he left the bench in the second half of Sunday's loss to the Chargers and went to the locker room. The 31-year-old told ESPN he left the building because he was upset. He also said he argued with McAdoo on Sunday during the game.
COWBOYS DT RETIRES: Defensive tackle Stephen Paea has retired seven months after joining the Cowboys. The 29-year-old had spent the past several months battling a knee injury. Despite the injury, he started the team's first four games, but he didn't play during Sunday's loss to the Packers.
Packers: Running back Ty Montgomery has a chance to play Sunday at Minnesota. Montgomery was listed as full participant for a second straight day while wearing a flak jacket to protect broken ribs sustained against the Bears on Sept. 28. The practice was the lone padded workout of the week and a key in determining his availability. "I played with one in high school," he said. "A flak jacket is very normal. It's not in the way or anything."