FRISCO, Texas -- The emergency injunction request by the NFL Players Association on behalf of Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott was denied by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday.
The ruling means Elliott's six-game suspension is back on, and he is currently ineligible to play Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons.
The next hearing in Elliott's case is set for Dec. 1. Pending unforeseen legal intervention, he will miss four games -- against the Falcons, Philadelphia Eagles, Los Angeles Chargers and Washington Redskins -- before getting another court date.
The 2nd Circuit Court had stipulated that the NFLPA's appeal of Thursday's ruling would be heard on an expedited basis.
Elliott will be placed on the suspended list for the second time in as many weeks. Last week he was granted a temporary administrative stay from the 2nd Circuit after Judge Katherine Polk Failla denied his request for a preliminary injunction in the Southern District. The stay allowed him to play against the Kansas City Chiefs.
On Aug. 11, the NFL announced Elliott had been suspended six games for violating the personal conduct policy. The league said it found persuasive evidence that he committed domestic violence against a former girlfriend on multiple occasions in July 2016 in Columbus, Ohio.
That set off legal maneuvering that has kept Elliott on the field for the first eight games of the season. Elliott won a preliminary injunction at a district court in Sherman, Texas, in September, but the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that court never should have heard Elliott's case. Polk Failla heard the case in the Southern District last week and denied the request.
Without another successful appeal, Elliott would be out until Dec. 24 against the Seattle Seahawks. His absence would be a blow to the Cowboys, who have won three straight and seen Elliott gain at least 93 yards in the past four games while scoring five rushing touchdowns. Elliott is second in the NFL in rushing with 783 yards in eight games and is tied for the league lead with seven rushing touchdowns.
In his absence, the Cowboys will go with Alfred Morris, Rod Smith and Darren McFadden in the backfield.
Elliott, who was not charged by Columbus authorities, has maintained his innocence.
"This is bigger than a suspension," Elliott said last week. "It's bigger than football. It's them trying to make me something I'm not. I'm not an abuser. That's not who I am. This is my name, and this is my reputation. That's something that I have to live with beyond football, so every day is worth fighting for."
Elliott missed Thursday's practice to be in the courtroom with the hope being his attendance would make a difference. As he did last week, he sat expressionless for the duration of the 30-minute hearing, even when the line of questioning began touching on the details of some of the accusations against him.
The questions from the judges didn't seem to favor either side. There were many questions about Article 46 of the collective bargaining agreement, the issue of Lisa Friel's and Kia Roberts' testimonies and why the NFL so desperately needs to keep the suspension in place during the appeal.
Although the league won the battle, the appeals judges took a few shots at the NFL for its handling of the suspension. Circuit Judge Dennis Jacobs told Paul Clement, the NFL's lawyer, that he found it odd that the issue was "such a frantic emergency that it can't wait another couple months."
"This is not just about Elliott and the Cowboys," Clement responded, noting that 100 players across the league had been suspended for a total of 500 games over the past two seasons.
"Unfortunately, discipline is a fact of life in the NFL," the lawyer added. "They all have an interest in seeing the same basic rules applied to them."
Clement said it was important that players not be able to "game the system" by using the courts to delay suspensions until it is convenient for them or their teams.
The news of Elliott's denial came moments after the Cowboys' locker room closed to the media.
Wide receiver Dez Bryant had been confident Elliott would continue to be eligible to play.
"All I know is I'll be running out there besides Zeke on Sunday," Bryant said. "I know that. That's what I feel. That's what I believe. That's what I'm going to stay with."
As the Cowboys were preparing for afternoon meetings, word broke that Elliott had lost his request. Per league rules, suspended players cannot have contact with the team's coaches. He can have contact with the team's medical staff.
If Elliott does not receive another temporary administrative stay, the next time he can be at The Star will be Dec. 18.
ESPN's Dan Graziano and The Associated Press contributed to this report.