The motion to stay the suspension of Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott was supposed to be resolved by a three-judge panel without further briefing or oral argument. The unexpected decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit to conduct a Thursday hearing on the matter is therefore being viewed by Elliott’s camp as a positive development, per a source with knowledge of the situation.
The thinking in cases like this is that, if the appeals court plans to summarily reject what amounts to an unconventional and unusual request — that the appeals court override the decision made by the lower court while the process of formally appealing the decision unfolds — no hearing would occur. The fact that a hearing has been planned means that the issue is being taken seriously by the appeals court, which is in turn being interpreted as an indication that the appeals court will be inclined to overturn the impact of the lower court’s ruling before considering whether to overturn the ruling itself.
Optimism also likely comes from the fact that the appeals court realizes time is of the essence, and that Elliott’s current status entitles him to participate in meetings and practices in advance of the Week 10 game at Atlanta. If the appeals court were inclined to compel him to serve his suspension while the appeal proceeds, a quick decision makes much more sense than a decision that comes after Elliott has participated in game planning and traditionally the most important day of practice of the week, on Wednesday.
Of course, the one persistent truth about the Elliott case is that the only thing to be expected is the unexpected. Which is precisely what everyone should be expecting as Thursday approaches. For now, however, Elliott is once again expecting the best.