The Denver Broncos defense did a much a much better job of stopping Ezekiel Elliott on the field Sunday than the NFL’s lawyers are doing to force him to serve a league-imposed suspension.
Elliott scored another court victory Monday when a federal judge not only refused to lift the injunction stopping the NFL from suspending the Dallas Cowboys running back, but took a slap at the NFL’s legal logic.
U.S. District Court judge Amos L. Mazzant noted the NFL is complaining that the court essentially issued a premature order by failing to wait for the arbitrator to issue his ruling, and therefore lacked “subject matter jurisdiction.’’
“Oddly, the NFL is now seeking expedited relief from the Fifth Circuit without first waiting for the Court to rule on the identical issue,’’ the judge wrote in his opinion. “The irony is not lost on the court.’’
The NFL is now appealing to the Fifth Circuit to force Elliott to serve his suspension while the legal process continues.
The league argued that he would still be paid for the games he missed if he were to eventually win.
That just goes to show once again that the NFL doesn’t think it’s important for the players to play in the games as long as they get paid. It’s the money, not the playing, for NFL executives.
The judge understands playing the games is important. Once Elliott doesn’t play, he can never get those games back.
“It is well-recognized that Elliott will suffer injury if he has to serve an improper suspension while awaiting the resolution of the petition to vacate (the injunction),’’ the judge wrote.
It will not be surprising if the NFL eventually wins the same way it did in the Tom Brady case, riding the argument that commissioner Roger Goodell has the power under the CBA to mete out discipline.
But Elliott shouldn’t have to serve the suspension until he exhausts all legal appeals.
The league’s lawyers made the absurd argument that the league has an interest in seeing that its procedures are followed and its suspensions are served in a timely fashion.
As if it makes any difference when the suspension is served.
As it turns out, Elliott also has problems on the field after the Broncos held him to nine yards in eight carries Sunday. He also was accused of quitting on the field after not running after Chris Harris when the Denver cornerback made an interception.
Peter King of The MMQB first made it an issue, saying the Cowboys should discipline Elliott for standing with his hands on his hips and watching Harris run.
Hall of Fame running back LaDainian Tomlinson also talked Sunday on the NFL Network about Elliott’s sideline demeanor and said Elliott quit on the team by not communicating with his teammates.
Then on Monday, Tomlinson addressed the issue of not chasing a player who made an interception, saying he would run the player down and try to slap the ball away or at least hit him hard.
Tomlinson said the fact that Elliott looked at Harris and walked away is quitting on the team.
Deadspin criticized King for making an issue out of Elliott not chasing Harris, saying that teams should not want star players risking injuries by chasing after a player who made an interception.
It is noteworthy that Terrell Davis ended his career prematurely by chasing down a player after an interception and suffering a knee injury.
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said Monday he would talk to Elliott and that players should chase down players after interceptions. He wasn’t happy with Elliott’s effort after both picks.
“Those two plays were not indicative of the kind of competitor he was and we have to get that addressed,’’ he said.
I don’t think whether Elliott runs after a player who made an interception is the big issue the team is facing now.
The bigger issue is that the Broncos took Elliott out of the game by jamming the line of scrimmage, so Dak Prescott wound up throwing 50 passes and two were picked as the Cowboys were routed, 42-17. If defenses are going to load up against Elliott, Prescott has to be more effective throwing the ball.
All this sets the stage for Dallas’ Monday night game at Arizona, where the Cowboys have a good following. And the Cardinals struggled in their first two games, losing to the Lions, 35-23, and barely beating the Colts, 16-13, who are still without Andrew Luck. Quarterback Carson Palmer hasn’t played well.
Assuming the NFL lawyers aren‘t able to get Elliott suspended before the Monday night, the question is whether Elliott and the Cowboys offense will get back in gear for the game.
The irony is that for all their efforts in getting Elliott of the field, the NFL needs him and the Cowboys.
In an era of declining TV ratings, the Cowboys are one of the best things the NFL has going for it.