A crucial step in the NFL's legal battle against Ezekiel Elliott will happen at an oral hearing by the 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals at 1 p.m. Monday in New Orleans.
It will play a huge role in if Elliott continues to play or if the NFL can begin to enforce its six-game suspension of Elliott for alleged domestic violence against a former girlfriend, which he denies.
Here's what the Dallas Morning News says you need to know about what comes next:
What's going on Monday in New Orleans?
The NFL and Elliott/NFL Players Association will present arguments on whether the U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of Texas had subject matter jurisdiction in Elliott's case. Judge Amos Mazzant of that court issued a preliminary injunction that allows Elliott to play while his case is dealt with. Mazzant criticized the NFL's investigatory and appeal process as unfair to Elliott. The NFL filed a motion for a stay of the injunction. A panel of three judges from the federal appeals court will hear the arguments. Elliott wants the motion denied. The NFL wants the entire case dismissed.
What does this mean?
Legal experts say it's rare for the 5th Circuit to hold an oral hearing on a stay motion. That a hearing is scheduled could be taken as good news for the NFL. The court asked for both sides to turn in briefs on subject matter jurisdiction, which were filed Wednesday evening. The request indicates that the court is focusing on whether Elliott and the NFLPA properly filed their lawsuit on Aug. 31 to vacate the NFL's punishment in the Eastern District of Texas, a court Elliott's side hoped would be favorable. The suit was filed hours after the conclusion of Elliott's appeal hearing with the NFL but before arbitrator Harold Henderson ruled to uphold the league's discipline. The hearing to request a preliminary injunction was held in Sherman on Sept. 5, and Henderson's ruling was issued while the hearing was in process.
Daniel Wallach, a lawyer and sports law expert who has avidly followed the case, has said that Elliott has a strong case for the stay to be denied because of the irreparable harm he would suffer if he served the suspension before the case was resolved. But Wallach said subject matter jurisdiction trumps all.
"Nothing outweighs jurisdiction," Wallach said. "If the court believes there's no jurisdiction, then it's toast."
What could the 5th Circuit do?
It's possible the judges could rule by the end of next week, before Dallas' Week 5 game against the Green Bay Packers. The Cowboys have a bye in Week 6.
The court could deny the stay, which would keep Elliott on the field as other legal fights play out.
The court could grant the stay, which would allow the NFL to enforce the suspension immediately.
The court could grant the stay, vacate the injunction and order Mazzant to dismiss the case, as the NFL as requested, on the grounds that it never should've been heard in the lower court in the Eastern District of Texas in the first place.
If this happens, the whole process will likely start over in the Southern District of New York, where the NFL is headquartered and wants the case. Elliott's team would then likely request a temporary restraining order/preliminary injunction from the judge there, which Elliott would need to be granted to remain on the field.