With several strokes of the keyboard, United States District Court Judge Amos Mazzant blocked the suspension of Ezekiel Elliot, metaphorically crapped on the league’s investigation and punishment practices, altered the landscapes of countless fantasy football leagues, and might have swung the NFC East in the Dallas Cowboys’ favor.
The investigation that led to Elliot’s six-game suspension this offseason was helmed by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, a man who is at beast disingenuous and at worst cruel, incompetent, and disingenuous. Elliot immediately appealed Goodell’s ruling, and Arbitrator Harold Henderson upheld it.
During the arbitration process, it was revealed that the league had excluded the recommendation of no suspension from Kia Roberts, director of investigations for the NFL, from the final report and official suspension letter.
Judge Mazzant wrote in his decision:
The arbitration record shows that the NFL, at the very least, turned a blind eye to Roberts’s dissenting opinion. This entire set of circumstances was put in front of Henderson. It is in this light the Court views Henderson’s decisions to exclude Thompson and Commissioner Goodell as necessary witnesses, as gross errors resulting in a fundamentally unfair hearing.
After Henderson’s ruling, the NFLPA sued the NFL on Elliott’s behalf. During that process, more of the investigation’s weaknesses came to light.
More from Judge Mazzant:
Fundamental unfairness is present throughout the entire arbitration process. Due to such fundamental unfairness, the Court’s intervention is justified. The NFLPA was not given the opportunity to discharge its burden to show that Goodell’s decision was arbitrary and capricious. At every turn, Elliott and the NFLPA were denied the evidence or witnesses needed to meet their burden. Fundamental unfairness infected this case from the beginning, eventually killing any possibility that justice would be served. Accordingly, the Court finds that the NFLPA demonstrated a substantial likelihood of success on the merits.
The judge’s decision to grant a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction preventing the NFL’s suspension means Elliott will likely be eligible to play the rest of the season, though the issue will probably be readdressed before the 2018 season.
This news delighted Cowboys fans and his fantasy owners …
Cowboy fans, and Ezekiel Elliot owners ATM pic.twitter.com/v2Ybqb39xy
— Daniel Steen (@dsteen9) September 8, 2017
Live look at Ezekiel Elliot fantasy owners pic.twitter.com/mlIzDjSHLn
— Rome (@JRome2014) September 8, 2017
— Benjamin Stewart (@BBaer_FBG) September 9, 2017
The people who drafted Ezekiel Elliot in fantasy right now. pic.twitter.com/n2Y2BWne8O
— Kip Smithers (@Chughes612) September 1, 2017
… and pissed off New York Giants, Washington Redskins, and Philadelphia Eagles fans, as well as anyone who passed on Elliott in their fantasy draft.
When the NFC East heard the news that Ezekiel Elliot will be playing the whole season. pic.twitter.com/bbP68PQmHZ
— I am homicide. (@504boiyaheardme) September 8, 2017
NFC EAST fans looking at their playoff chances now that Zeke is playing pic.twitter.com/wcwabUf0eH
— BigHeadSports (@BigHeadSports) September 9, 2017
NFC east teams finding out zeke isn’t suspended at all pic.twitter.com/d3JU0uyR3z
— bobstar (@Bobstar30) September 8, 2017