A U.S. District Court judge in Texas on Monday denied the NFL's motion for an emergency stay of an injunction that is allowing Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott to continue to play while his NFL suspension works its way through the courts.
The move means the case will now move to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, where the NFL already has filed an appeal in the case. The league has asked for an emergency order in the case as early as Tuesday.
Monday's ruling by Judge Amos Mazzant means Elliott can continue to play.
On Aug. 11, the 22-year-old Elliott was suspended six games by commissioner Roger Goodell. The punishment came following a yearlong investigation in which the league concluded that Elliott had several physical confrontations in the summer of 2016 in Ohio with his girlfriend at the time.
The NFL Players Association appealed his suspension on Aug. 15.
Arbitrator Harold Henderson denied Elliott's appeal of the suspension on Sept. 5, but it was decided Elliott would be allowed to play in the season opener because of the timing of the decision.
The NFL season officially opened Sept. 7.
On Sept. 8, Mazzant granted the NFLPA's request for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to prevent the implementation of the suspension.
The NFL countered by asking Mazzant to stay his motion, and said if he didn't rule on its request by last Thursday, it would go to federal appeals court.
Last Friday, the NFL filed an emergency motion with the 5th Circuit seeking a stay of the injunction ordered by Mazzant. In its request, the NFL reiterated arguments that Elliott's attorneys sued prematurely because Henderson had yet to rule on the running back's appeal of the suspension.
Then, on Saturday, the NFLPA responded to the league's efforts to block the injunction by saying there would be no irreparable harm to the NFL if Elliott was allowed to continue to play while his case was adjudicated.
On Monday, the legal maneuvering continued when the NFL answered the NFLPA's latest filing in federal appeals court.
The NFL argued Monday that the preliminary injunction essentially rewrites the league's collective-bargaining agreement by going against established discipline and that the league has an interest in seeing that its procedures are followed and its suspensions are served in a timely matter.