FRISCO, Texas – Ezekiel Elliott is set to be back on the field this Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers, looking to help the Cowboys (2-3) get back to .500 in the standings.
Off the field, Elliott has taken on a different challenge this season: the struggle to clear his name.
On Tuesday, a New York district judge granted Elliott a temporary restraining order that once again blocked the NFL's six-game suspension of the All-Pro running back for violating the personal conduct policy. The suspension, first handed down in August, concluded the league's year-long investigation into July 2016 domestic violence allegations against Elliott by a former girlfriend.
In September 2016, the Columbus (Ohio) City Attorney's Office announced that Elliott would not face charges. A player can still face punishment from the league under its personal conduct policy even if he is cleared of legal charges, however.
Elliott has staunchly denied those allegations, and the NFL Players Association has continued to explore every legal avenue to defend Elliott and maintain his football eligibility.
"Just fighting for your name. That's what it is," he said Wednesday after rejoining his teammates for practice. "I think my representatives have done a good job of going out there and fighting for me. It's been a lot of hard work and it's definitely a tough job. But they've definitely served me well.
"When you get accused of something of that magnitude, you kind of get labeled as an abuser and that's not me. That's not how I want to be seen. That's not what I want to represent my family. It's just important for me to fight."
Elliott has endured setbacks throughout this ongoing legal process. Last Thursday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit vacated Elliott's preliminary injunction, reinstating his suspension, and subsequently denied the NFLPA's request to recall the mandate.
But Elliott's team gained a victory Tuesday when the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York granted the temporary restraining order that reportedly will block Elliott's suspension for approximately two weeks or until Judge Katherine Polk Failla returns from vacation to hear the case. The NFLPA also reportedly filed a petition on Elliott's behalf for another preliminary injunction.
Elliott admitted his legal matters have weighed on him some as he's tried to focus on football.
"It's a little tiring, but that's what you have a legal team for," he said. "It's not really my job to worry about. I trust the guys that work for me."
Because Elliott's suspension was still in place Tuesday, he was not permitted to be at The Star in Frisco when the team reconvened for meetings coming off the bye week. Then the court ruled in his favor, and he was back at work Wednesday morning.[embeddedad0]
Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett has been pleased with Elliott's approach all season.
"Zeke has done an excellent job of focusing on what he needs to do," Garrett said, "and we certainly try to do that as a football team. Nothing's really changed from our perspective."
The NFLPA's battle with the NFL over Elliott's eligibility will continue in the weeks ahead. But for now, he and the Cowboys are focused on the 49ers.
"Just appreciate the opportunity to be able to go here and get a couple more weeks with these guys for sure," Elliott said. "And another opportunity to get an even longer TRO. Honestly, just happy to be able to go out there and play this week."