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The NFL’s court filings Monday won’t likely change Ezekiel Elliott’s availability for the Dallas Cowboys, at least for the next several weeks and potentially the rest of the season.
NFL spokesman Joe Lockhart also told reporters Monday that it’s unlikely Elliott will land up on the commissioner’s exempt list, which amounts to paid leave, as the courts settle on whether the league acted appropriately when it issued a six-game suspension over domestic violence allegations.
“It does not fit the criteria for the exempt list, so you should not expect us to invoke that,” Lockhart said.
That effectively leaves Elliott’s playing status to the courts, which received two new filings from the NFL on Monday: an appeal to the Fifth Circuit and a stay request.
“The NFL’s only realistic chance of enforcing the suspension this year is through obtaining an emergency stay of the preliminary injunction,” sports law attorney Daniel Wallach told USA TODAY Sports in an email. “Absent a stay, Elliott is safe for the 2017 NFL season.
“Even an expedited appeal wouldn’t be resolved by December. April or May is a much more realistic estimate in my view, just like Deflategate.”
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s case spanned about six months between the NFL appeals filing and the initial decision. The appeals court eventually reversed the U.S. District Court ruling and sided with the NFL, a judgement that was upheld later by the full panel of the Second Circuit.
By that time, Brady had already played the entire 2015 season. He served his four-game suspension at the start of the 2016 season.
“The average duration of an appeal in the Fifth Circuit is 8.8 months, which is in line with other circuits,” said Wallach, a partner at Becker & Poliakoff. “There is simply too much activity that has to take place in the appeals court — the submission of three written briefs, the scheduling of oral argument before a three-judge panel, and the issuance of a written opinion — to reasonably expect a final outcome during this NFL season.”
Lockhart admitted that U.S. District Court Judge Amos Mazzant would be unlikely to…