When a federal judge decided in 2015 to let Patriots quarterback Tom Brady play while his court challenge to a four-game suspension proceeded, the NFL did not pursue an immediate appeal. Two years later, with a federal judge deciding to let Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliot play while his court challenge to a four-game suspension proceeds, the NFL may file an immediate appeal.
Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the league will decide as soon as Monday whether to pursue an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. The goal would be to overturn the ruling from Judge Amos L. Mazzant III blocking the suspension as soon as possible. That would mean, if the appeal is filed and if it succeeds quickly, Elliott’s suspension could be reinstated by Week Two, when the Cowboys play the Broncos.
As a practical matter, that’s unlikely. But, in theory, it could happen. If not by Week Two, the suspension could be reinstated by Week Three or Four.
So why the possible change in approach from Brady to Elliott? Because the NFL ultimately scored a major victory before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in the Brady case, the league feels more strongly about its position in Elliott’s case. Put simply, the league believes that the Brady precedent makes it much harder for Elliott to show a likelihood of ultimate success in the litigation, which is one of the key factors in determining whether an injunction should be issued that blocks a suspension.