The NFL filed notice Monday that it will appeal last week's Ezekiel Elliott ruling made by a U.S. District Court judge.
The three-page filing in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas sets the stage for another drawn-out legal battle, not unlike the one the league and the NFL Players Association waged over the suspension of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady over Deflategate. U.S. District Court Judge Amos Mazzant granted Elliott's preliminary injunction Friday as Mazzant ruled that "a cloud of fundamental unfairness" followed Dallas Cowboys running back's disciplinary proceedings.
Elliott was suspended by the NFL for six games on Aug. 11 due to allegations of domestic abuse. That suspension, however, likely will remain on hold as the case is decided in the courts as the NFL, so far, appears unlikely to put Elliott on the commissioner's exempt list, which amounts to paid leave. The NFL could ask Mazzant to stay his decision as the appeal is decided, which legal observers see as a long shot.
If Elliott's case ends up in the hands of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, there's a good chance that Elliott could remain eligible for the rest of the season. The average time from a notice of appeal to a decision by the Fifth Circuit last year was 8.8 months, although either the NFL or the NFLPA -- which is representing Elliott --- could ask for an expedited appeal.
The NFL sought an expedited appeal in Brady's case, but the decision by a three-member panel of the Second Circuit still took six months, during which time Brady played the entire 2015 season. Brady eventually appealed to the entire Second Circuit, which re-affirmed the panel's initial ruling.
Brady, eventually, served his four-game suspension at the start of the 2016 regular season for his role in under-inflated footballs in the 2014 AFC Championship Game.
Elliott's chances of success in the Fifth Circuit aren't great. The Fifth Circuit reversed a lower court's decision only 7.2% of the time last year.
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