The final battle appears to have been fought in Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott’s war with the NFL over his six-game suspension.
After moving through from the league office through four courts -- in Texas, New Orleans and New York -- Elliott and the NFL Player’s Association are withdrawing their appeal of his suspension, according to NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport.
He’ll serve the five remaining games of the suspension in weeks 11-15, and will be able to return on Christmas Eve against the Seattle Seahawks.
“The decision arises from a practical assessment of the current legal landscape,” read a statement from Elliott’s attorneys sent to Rapoport. “Mr. Elliott’s desire for closure in this matter is in his best interest, as well as the best interest of his teammates, family and friends.”
“This decision is in no way an admission of any wrongdoing,” the statement adds.
NFL arbitrator Harold Henderson handed down the six-game suspension on Aug. 11. He appealed days later, and, in anticipation of a ruling in the league’s favor, the NFLPA filed a federal lawsuit in the Eastern District of Texas.
That court granted Elliott an injunction, denied the NFL’s request for a stay and the case moved to the 5th Circuit court in New Orleans.
There, a hearing was held on Oct. 2. Ten days later, the court ruled in favor of the NFL and restored Elliott’s suspension.
From there, the case went to the Southern District of New York, where a fill-in judge temporarily blocked the suspension on Oct. 17 before Judge Katherine Polk Failla ultimately reinstated it.
The final legal volley took place in the 2nd Circuit court in New York, where a brief administrative stay allowed Elliott to stay on the field for the Cowboys’ Week 9 game before a three-judge panel in the same court denied him the injunctive relief he needed to continue playing.
Elliott’s legal team could’ve pursued an en banc, or full-court, rehearing in the 2nd Circuit or attempted to escalate the case to the Supreme Court. Either option was thought to be a Hail Mary, and on Wednesday it was officially announced the courtroom back-and-forth was over.
The second-year running back is reportedly spending his suspension out of the country to "clear his head."
The Cowboys lost their first game without Elliott Sunday in Atlanta, 27-7. Elliott ranked second in the NFL with 783 rushing yards through eight games. Alfred Morris started in his place Sunday.