Today's Ezekiel Elliott ruling left people scratching their heads after a contentious round robin in an appellate court today where it seemed the Judges were giving the NFL a hard time over its insistence that Elliott serve his suspension before his case is even heard.
Yet, despite several Judges giving the impression that they didn't buy into the NFL's need for an immediate suspension, an hour later they gave the NFL the relief it sought and rejected Elliott's motion for a hold on his suspension. This decision was at least in line with every other jaw dropping and inconsistent decision handed down by eight Judges in two states over the past few months. So suspension was off, now it's back on.
Elliott did not win a hold on his suspension but the Court of Appeals will still hear the case in an expedited manner. In court terminology "expedited" means (much longer than UPS). Courts move at a snail's pace so their version of getting this case heard fast means a few weeks.
Here's what today's decision means. Elliott is suspended this weekend and suspended until December 1st when there will be another hearing and lawyers will make oral arguments. No, there are no more chances to appeal this decision (well technically there may be one but it's not happening).
On December 1, the Appellate Judges will hear the case and decide whether to vacate the suspension. It could take a day or a week or a few weeks for them to issue their decision (there's no timeline). At this point, he will have served four out of the six games (which makes the case a bit ridiculous at that point because the whole purpose of the case is to avoid the suspension).
If the Court rules for Elliott and vacates the suspension, he could avoid the final two games of the suspension. But, odds are that if they denied his application for a hold on the suspension then they don't think he has a "substantial probability" of success. In layman's terms, it's them saying 'we don't think he's likely gonna win this case'. That's not something you wanna hear from the people potentially deciding it.
However, if Elliott wins, even after serving the suspension, a decision on this case in Elliott's favor could set precedent and redefine the powers of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and opine on the NFL's ability to conduct its own criminal investigations and rulings. So, the case does matter when interpreting the CBA and for future players. Also if Elliott wins he could seek damages.
On the flip side, if Elliott serves his suspension AND loses, his case and this whole fiasco becomes another reminder that the NFLPA negotiated a disastrous CBA when it comes to player discipline and the courts want nothing to do with it (even when it involves Roger Goodell branding someone a domestic abuser based on his own evaluation of the NFL's compiled evidence.)
If you want to hear the very short, yet fascinating arguments by NFL and NFLPA lawyers today before the three Appellate Judges, listen here.