The NFL thought that a hearing from the bench during Monday’s hearing before the U.S. Court of Appeals hearing in the Ezekiel Elliott case was possible. It didn’t ultimately happen that.
Via Kate Hairopoulos of the Dallas Morning News, the hearing in New Orleans concluded without a decision being issued.
Elliott did not attend the proceedings before a three-judge panel, which featured “a lot of questions,” particularly from Judge Jennifer Welker Elrod. The judge seemed to be particularly focused on the issue of subject-matter jurisdiction; the NFL claims that, because Elliott filed his lawsuit in Texas federal court before the ruling on his internal appeal was issued, jurisdiction does not exist and cannot exist in the Texas federal court that has blocked the NFL from suspending him while the lawsuit proceeds.
Judge Elrod also asked why Elliott and the NFL Players Association didn’t simply wait to file the case in Texas until after the ruling on the internal appeal was announced. Although the answer provided to that question wasn’t mentioned, here’s what I would have said: (1) because the NFL controls the process, the NFL knows when the ruling will be announced, and the NFL can always run to the court of its choosing, filing its own lawsuit before the player ever has a chance to do so, like it did in the Brady case; and (2) the process and the result in Elliott’s case proved that waiting for a ruling was indeed futile, making it proper to file the lawsuit before the internal appeal was final.
It’s unclear when the external appeal will be final. The ruling, when it comes, will potentially spark another skirmish that will require further lawyering. Regardless, it’s clear that the league is determined to keep Elliott from playing — even if it plans in the interim to herald his in-game accomplishments on Twitter.