Dallas Cowboys running Ezekiel Elliott withdrew his appeal of a six-game suspension, meaning he will miss the next five games before returning for the final two games of the season, including the season finale at the Philadelphia Eagles on New Year's Eve.
However, Elliott's decision to drop his suspension isn't necessarily an admission of his guilt, as the National Football League not-so-subtly hints with its response.
Last week, Elliott saw his eligibility come to an end when the 2nd Circuit removed a temporary administrative stay that had allowed him to play November 5 against the Kansas City Chiefs.
"Mr. Elliott's desire for closure in this matter is in his best interest, as well as the best interests of his teammates, family and friends", lawyers Rocky Arceneaux and Frank Salzano said in a statement to the NFL Network. This decision is in no way an admission of any wrongdoing, and Mr. Elliott is pleased that the legal fight mounted by he and his team resulted in disclosing many hidden truths regarding this matter as well [as] publicly exposing the NFL's mismanagement of its disciplinary process. He will return in Week 16 to face the Seahawks.
Elliott had appealed to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, where a hearing had been scheduled for December 1 on the appeal of Judge Katherine Polk Failla's denial of an injunction that would have blocked the suspension pending completion of the legal process regarding the validity of the suspension.
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However, an emergency injunction request by the NFL Players Association on his behalf was denied last week by the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and the suspension was back in place.
Elliott also maintains he is innocent.
Late Wednesday afternoon, Elliott accepted that reality, officially dropping his challenge to the ban, issued by Goodell in response to domestic violence allegations made against Elliott by his ex-girlfriend in July 2016. Elliott, who served the first game of his suspension in the Cowboys' 27-7 loss at the Atlanta Falcons, will miss the next five games, including Sunday night's matchup against the Eagles in Arlington, Texas.
Elliott has put up 993 total yards and nine touchdowns in eight games this season. The Cowboys (5-4) have turned to Alfred Morris, Rod Smith and Darren McFadden in Elliott's absence.