Federal appeals court rules in favor of NFL's six-game suspension of Cowboys' Ezekiel Elliott

There’s another twist in the legal battle involving the six-game suspension of Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott, and this one favors the NFL.

A federal appeals court Thursday lifted an injunction that had blocked the league from punishing Elliott, thereby paving the way for the original six-game suspension to be imposed. The second-year player, last season’s leading rusher, is facing domestic violence accusations.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans granted an emergency request by the NFL to lift the injunction and ordered the district court in Texas that had imposed it to dismiss the case.

The injunction was put in place by a Texas judge who agreed with the argument of an NFL Players Assn. attorney who said Elliott wasn’t given a fair chance during his appeals hearing.

The league argued that it followed the rules of the labor deal and that the players’ union improperly filed a lawsuit before the appeals process had concluded.

The NFL announced the suspension in August after a yearlong investigation found that on three occasions, Elliott caused physical injury to a girlfriend. Elliott has denied the charges.

The likely next step would be the players group’s filing an injunction in the Southern District of New York in hopes of keeping Elliott on the field. The Cowboys have a bye this weekend before resuming play Oct. 22 at San Francisco.

If the six-game suspension were put in place immediately, Elliott would not be able to play until after the Cowboys’ game against the Chargers on Thanksgiving Day.

In other NFL news:

-- Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle Fletcher Cox is set to play against the Panthers after missing the past two games with a calf injury. For Carolina, two-time All-Pro center Ryan Kalil remains out with a neck injury.

-- The NFL is keeping an eye on the wildfires in Northern California and has been exploring options to move Sunday's game between the Oakland Raiders and Los Angeles Chargers if it becomes necessary. Oakland, which is some 45 miles south of the fires, has been blanketed by smoke. If the NFL decides that conditions in Oakland are too unhealthy to play, the game could be moved to Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara. San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer has also offered up Qualcomm Stadium, where the Chargers used to play before relocating to Los Angeles.

-- Cincinnati Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert will miss the rest of the season because of a back injury that has put his career in jeopardy. The fifth-year veteran missed half of last season with ankle and back injuries. He had surgery on a disk in his back last December. He aggravated it in the second game this season, forcing him to consider another procedure. He's been inactive for the last three games and was put on injured reserve Thursday.

-- The NFL as well as the New England Patriots, Oakland Raiders and Pittsburgh Steelers will together contribute $200,000 to support disaster relief efforts following last month's earthquake in Mexico City. The money will go to Banorte's Fundacion Banorte, which is a local bank involved with relief efforts. They will match these donations dollar for dollar.

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