Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott tried to get a head start on the race to the courthouse because he knew the NFL had an unfair advantage. It controls the internal appeals process, it knows when an appeals ruling is issued, and it can go straight to the court of its choosing before Elliott could, like the league did two years ago in Tom Brady‘s case.
Now that Elliott has filed a lawsuit in Texas — and amid concerns that Elliott’s chosen forum may result in a win for the player — the NFL has filed its own lawsuit, on its own turf. I’ve yet to see the paperwork, but it’s safe to say the NFL contends that New York is the proper jurisdiction for the dispute, that Elliott started the process prematurely, and that the judge in New York should take control of the case from the judge in Texas.
When the league filed the first lawsuit in the Tom Brady case two years ago, it was a bang-bang move that consisted of announcing the ruling on his internal appeal and starting the legal process aimed at defending the ruling. Although the league lost before Judge Richard Berman, the NFL won a 2-1 ruling at the appeals level that created precedent that the league will now try to use against Elliott.
And so the legal maneuverings now span half of the country, with two different courts involved and both courts undoubtedly expected to issue quick rulings aimed at providing some semblance of order to a quickly-convoluted case. Expect clarity sooner than later.