New York — Dallas Cowboys star Ezekiel Elliott was granted another legal reprieve Tuesday night in the running back’s fight to avoid a six-game suspension over domestic violence allegations.
A federal judge granted a temporary restraining order blocking the league’s suspension, clearing Elliott to play Sunday at San Francisco.
U.S. District Judge Paul Crotty’s ruling comes five days after a federal appeals court overturned a Texas court’s injunction that had kept Elliott on the field.
Crotty granted the request for a temporary restraining order pending a hearing before the presiding judge, Katherine Polk Failla, who is on vacation. He ordered the league to appear before Failla by Oct. 30 to argue why the suspension should not be blocked until courts in New York and Texas can rule on challenges the players’ union brought against the suspension.
Elliott, last year’s NFL rushing leader as a rookie, was barred from the team’s facility Tuesday as players returned from their off week. The NFL placed him on the suspended list Friday, a day after the ruling from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.
The league didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Elliott was suspended in August by Commissioner Roger Goodell after the league concluded 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, but the NFL did its own investigation.
During a hearing earlier Tuesday, Crotty said he was inclined to defer to Failla because she was more familiar with the case.
Attorney Daniel Nash, arguing for the NFL, accused Elliott’s legal team of seeking relief from courts in Texas to evade courts in New York and the effect of the April 2016 ruling that reinstated a four-game suspension of New England quarterback Tom Brady in the “Deflategate” scandal.
Attorney Jeffrey Kessler, representing the players’ union, asked Crotty to prevent enforcement of the suspension for two weeks so that Failla can return from a vacation and rule.
Nash warned Crotty that allowing the union to continue to delay the suspension would invite “every player who’s suspended” to go to court for relief.
“They know under the Brady decision they have no chance of success. None,” Nash said.
Kessler said the harm to a player’s short career was serious when a suspension is served.
“He can never get that back,” Kessler said, arguing that the irreparable harm — among issues of law considered before a temporary restraining order is granted — faced by a player is much greater than harm claimed by the league when a suspension is delayed.