The NFL players’ union has issued notice that it will request an en banc hearing — a hearing of the full panel of judges with the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel in New Orleans — on behalf of Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott. In addition, the union will request that Elliott’s six-game suspension over domestic violence allegations, which had been restored by a 2-1 vote of a 5th Circuit panel Thursday, be stayed while request for the en banc hearing is considered.
The NFLPA — as confirmed on the 5th Circuit’s official website — says it has 14 days to file its petition for an en banc appeal hearing, during which time Elliott’s suspension would not be in place, assuming that court stays the suspension while it considers the request.
A petition for a rehearing en banc “is to be used only for cases involving questions of exceptional importance or to secure or maintain uniformity of the court’s decisions,” according to the 5th Circuit’s website, which also says that the court “is fully justified in imposing sanctions on its own initiative for petitions which have little merit.”
The NFL announced Thusday that Elliott’s suspension was effective immediately, though the appeal process still has to run its course and the Cowboys are not playing this weekend.
“We are currently exploring all of our legal options and will make a decision as to what is the best course of action in the next few days,” Elliott’s attorney Frank Salzano said.
The Cowboys don’t play again until Sunday, Oct. 22, at San Francisco. If Elliott’s legal team can’t put the suspension on hold again, he would miss the 49ers game, plus games against the Washington Redskins, Kansas City Chiefs, Atlanta Falcons, Philadelphia Eagles and Los Angeles Chargers. He would be eligible to play again Nov. 30 at home against Washington, a Thursday night game the week after Thanksgiving.
Elliott played the first five games while the case was in the courts. He rushed for 393 yards on 105 carries, an average of 3.7 yards. He led the NFL with 1,631 rushing yards last season as a rookie.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Elliott in August 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, citing conflicting evidence.