Ezekiel Elliott withdraws appeal, will serve full 6-game ban

Elliott withdraws his appeal of suspension (0:56)

Adam Schefter explains why Ezekiel Elliott decided to end his legal fight and withdraw his appeal of a six-game suspension, meaning Elliott will be eligible to return in Week 16 against the Seahawks. (0:56)

FRISCO, Texas -- The next time Ezekiel Elliott carries the football for the Dallas Cowboys will be Dec. 24 against the Seattle Seahawks.

Elliott has withdrawn his appeal to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. A hearing had been scheduled for Dec. 1 for a potential preliminary injunction, a last-ditch effort to fend off a full six-game suspension for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy.

In a statement on Wednesday, Elliott's agents, Rocky Arceneaux and Frank Salzano, said: "In consultation with the NFLPA and his lawyers, and after careful deliberation and review of the recent Second Circuit decisions, Mr. Elliott has decided to forgo any further appeals and will serve the remaining suspension. This decision arises from a practical assessment of the current legal landscape. Mr. Elliott's desire for closure in this matter is in his best interests, as well as the best interests of his teammates, family and friends.

"This decision is in no way an admission of any wrongdoing, and Mr. Elliott is pleased that the legal fight mounted by him and his team resulted in the disclosure of many hidden truths regarding this matter, as well public exposure of the NFL's mismanagement of its disciplinary process. Mr. Elliott will maximize this time away from the game and come back even stronger both on and off the field. He intends to release a final personal statement in the upcoming weeks and until then we have no further comment."

The NFL Players Association confirmed to ESPN's Jim Trotter later Wednesday that the union has withdrawn its appeal on behalf of Elliott.

"Our vigilant fight on behalf of Ezekiel once again exposed the NFL's disciplinary process as a sham and a lie,'' the NFLPA said in a statement. "They hired several former federal prosecutors, brought in 'experts' and imposed a process with the stated goal of 'getting it right,' yet the management council refuses to step in and stop repeated manipulation of an already awful League-imposed system.''

Last week, Elliott saw his eligibility come to an end when the 2nd Circuit removed a temporary administrative stay that had allowed him to play Nov. 5 against the Kansas City Chiefs.

This ends a saga that started in July 2016, when a former girlfriend accused Elliott of domestic violence over multiple days in Columbus, Ohio. Although authorities in Ohio chose not to press charges against Elliott, the NFL conducted a 13-month investigation and on Aug. 11 announced it had persuasive evidence that Elliott committed domestic violence, which led to a six-game suspension.

Elliott has said he is innocent throughout the process.

"When you get accused of something of that magnitude, you kind of get labeled as an abuser, and that's not me," Elliott said last month. "That's not how I want to be seen. That's not what I want to represent to my family. So I mean it's just important for me to fight."

The legal fight, however, was not so much about Elliott's name but the process that led to the suspension. His lawyers and the NFL Players Association said the arbitration process lacked "fundamental fairness," with Harold Henderson serving as the NFL's hand-picked arbitrator and the league's lead investigator, Kia Roberts, not being involved in the meeting with commissioner Roger Goodell that led to the discipline.

Roberts, who was the only person with the league to interview Elliott's former girlfriend, did not believe Elliott should be penalized by the league.

The legal battle was waged in four courts in three different states. Had Elliott not prevailed in the Dec. 1 hearing, he theoretically could have taken the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones has been outspoken in his support of Elliott and has decried the league's actions. Jones has said on multiple times he does not believe the league has treated Elliott fairly.

While on suspension, Elliott cannot have any contact with the Cowboys' front office or coaches. Jones said after last week's loss to the Atlanta Falcons he is not worried about his running back being away from the team for so long.

"I think he's got a good plan and I know he's going to be doing stuff," Jones said last Sunday. "He's going to get away, and he's doing some things that will help his career and his life and so, no, I'm not as concerned about that."

Earlier this week, Cowboys executive Stephen Jones confirmed that Elliott will be training outside the United States during his suspension.

Elliott will be allowed to return to the Cowboys on Dec. 18, once his suspension ends.

In eight games this season, he has 783 yards on 191 carries and seven rushing touchdowns. In his absence, the Cowboys will go with a committee at running back, with Alfred Morris, Rod Smith and Darren McFadden; they combined for 65 yards on 15 carries against the Falcons.