A federal judge has cleared the way for the NFL to enforce a six-game suspension of Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott over domestic violence allegations.
U.S. District Judge Katherine Polk Failla on Monday denied the request for a preliminary injunction from players' union attorneys working for Elliott.
It's the second time a federal ruling has overturned a reprieve that kept Elliott on the field, and likely will lead to another effort by for Elliott's legal team to pursue other remedies.
Elliott attended the roughly two-hour hearing in New York on Monday, a day after rushing for 150 yards and two touchdowns in the Cowboys' 33-19 win at Washington.
Elliott has 24 hours to appeal the decision.
The suspension would begin for this week's home game against the Kansas City Chiefs.
He is eligible to return for the Cowboys' Dec. 17 matchup with the Oakland Raiders on NBC's Sunday Night Football.
A lawyer for the NFL Players Association, Jeffrey Kessler, argued Monday that the process NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell used to determine the punishment against Elliott was "fundamentally unfair" because it downplayed the conclusion by an internal investigator that the accuser, Tiffany Thompson, wasn't credible in her account of the 2016 violence.
The doubts "were kept from the union, the Cowboys, the player and, we believe, Mr. Goodell," Kessler said.
At one point, the judge asked NFL attorney Paul Clement, "Why it was OK that the commissioner was not told that (the investigator) had concerns?"
Clement responded that a report given to Goodell before he made his decision made clear that the accuser was a flawed witness, but that he relied on photos of her bruised body and other corroborating evidence to make his decision. Though criminal authorities declined to bring charges in the case, the league has an obligation to combat domestic abuse under its labor agreement, he said.
"There's a concern on the behalf of the league that its players are held to a higher standard," Clement said.
The union's suggestion that its lawyer should have been able to cross-examine Thompson during an arbitration hearing won by the league would set a "terrible precedent," he added.
Elliott left court on Monday without speaking to reporters.