Patriots

Elliott gives up the fight, accepts NFL's six-game suspension

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Elliott gives up the fight, accepts NFL's six-game suspension

FRISCO, Texas -- Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott is ending his legal fight with five games remaining on a six-game suspension over alleged domestic violence.

Elliott's agents said Wednesday the decision by last year's NFL rushing leader "is in no way an admission of wrongdoing." Elliott had a hearing set in a federal appeals court on Dec. 1, four games into the suspension.

Wednesday was the 96th day since Commissioner Roger Goodell announced the suspension. Elliott served the first game in Dallas' 27-7 loss to Atlanta last weekend. By accepting the six-game ban, Elliott is eligible to return for the final two games of the regular season: Dec. 24 at home against Seattle and Dec. 31 at Philadelphia.

The defending NFC East champion Cowboys (5-4) are three games behind the division-leading Eagles (8-1), who visit Sunday night. A year after being the top seed in the NFC at 13-3, Dallas faces a difficult task staying in playoff contention until Elliott returns.

The 22-year-old Elliott was suspended by Goodell in August after the league concluded following a yearlong investigation that he had several physical confrontations in the summer of 2016 with Tiffany Thompson, his girlfriend at the time.

Prosecutors in Ohio didn't pursue the case, citing conflicting evidence. Elliott denied the allegations under oath during his NFL appeal.

"Our vigilant fight on behalf of Ezekiel once again exposed the NFL's disciplinary process as a sham and a lie," the NFL Players Association said in a statement. "They hired several former federal prosecutors, brought in `experts' and imposed a process with the stated goal of `getting it right,' yet the management council refuses to step in and stop repeated manipulation of an already awful League-imposed system."

The suspension prompted weeks of court hearings in three states resulting in three legal reprieves that kept Elliott on the field.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed to an expedited hearing for Elliott's arguments that he wasn't treated fairly by the league, but last week turned down his request for an injunction while the case was being heard.

The same court ruled against New England quarterback Tom Brady last year over his four-game suspension in the "Deflategate" case. Unlike Elliott, Brady had won a lower-court ruling that delayed the suspension for a year.

"This decision arises from a practical assessment of the current legal landscape," agents Rocky Arceneaux and Frank Salzano said.

"This decision is in no way an admission of any wrongdoing, and Mr. Elliott is pleased that the legal fight ... resulted in disclosing many hidden truths regarding this matter, as well as publicly exposing the NFL's mismanagement of its disciplinary process."

A Texas judge granted an injunction that kept Elliott eligible early in the season, agreeing with NFL Players Association lawyers who argued that investigators withheld key evidence from Goodell, and that the appeal hearing was unfair because arbitrator Harold Henderson refused to call Goodell and Thompson as witnesses.

The NFL contended all along that the league followed federal law as it relates to labor agreements and the commissioner's power to discipline players.

A federal appeals court in New Orleans tossed Elliott's lawsuit in Texas on the grounds that it was filed prematurely. The case moved to New York because the NFL had already filed there.

After a visiting federal judge granted a temporary restraining order that kept Elliott on the field two more weeks, the judge assigned to the case rejected all of Elliott's arguments in denying his request for an injunction.

An emergency stay made him eligible for one game against Kansas City before the latest ruling denying an injunction.

"Mr. Elliott's desire for closure is in his best interest, as well as the best interests of his teammates, family and friends," Elliott's attorneys said. "Mr. Elliott will maximize his time away from the game and come back even stronger both on and off the field."

The Dallas offense struggled without Elliott against the Falcons, finishing with a season low in points. Alfred Morris, who started in Elliott's place, had 53 yards on 11 carries. Elliott is third in the NFL with 783 yards rushing.

"Like I said and continue to say, we trust those running backs that we have and what they'll do this Sunday," quarterback Dak Prescott said Wednesday before Elliott's decision was announced.

Dolphins' Wake promises pain for Patriots on Monday night

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Dolphins' Wake promises pain for Patriots on Monday night

Monday night, Cameron Wake will be trying to hurt Tom Brady. Pain – inflicting it, enduring it, the specter of it – is a football fact of life.

And no matter how hard the NFL tries to legislate out the danger of the game, it will always be inherent. Brady gets that better than Wake does. He’s been on the receiving end of it a lot longer than Wake’s been dishing it out. And while Brady’s gets to do his job with plenty of protections, he spends a lot more time prone and vulnerable than Wake does.

The Dolphins defensive end went deep last week talking about the nature of the game, the protections afforded, the risks players take and what he sees as the inconsistencies.

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Asked about the injury suffered by Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier last week, Wake said, “I’ve seen a lot of injuries so, unfortunately, that comes along with. This is my thing: I want to hurt everybody I play. I don’t want to injure anybody.

“I want you to be able to get up and go to the next play or feed your family and play next week but I want you to say ‘Man, Cameron Wake …’ ” Wake continued. “I don’t want you to be off the team or like not playing. I want you to obviously be physically defeated. I want to intimidate. I don’t want you to be harmed beyond tomorrow at all. It doesn’t always work that way.”

Continuing, Wake did a little math to make a very good point.

“We have 10 guys on IR or whatever? I’m sure every team has about that with 50 players on a team and then when you think about a 90-man roster … That’s a 20 percent chance every time you’re on the field, a 20 percent chance that whatever happens to you, you’re not going to play football this year.”

As appetizing as the NFL tries to make its product for the masses, the truth is that every single one of the players in the league has reconciled himself to the brutal, primitive nature of the game in which an opponent isn’t just defeated but beaten – literally.

Which means you will see a quarterback exhibit the fencing response as Tom Savage did Sunday, a linebacker unable to walk off the field because he can’t feel his legs as Shazier did last Monday or a well-liked tight end go barbaric on an opponent who made him mad as Rob Gronkowski did last Sunday.

Consumers, advertisers, social media and fans recoil. But violence is as much a part of the game as the football.

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Eagles announce Wentz has torn ACL, out for rest of year

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Eagles announce Wentz has torn ACL, out for rest of year

PHILADELPHIA -- Eagles star quarterback Carson Wentz has a torn left ACL and will miss rest of the season and playoffs, coach Doug Pederson confirmed.

Wentz, a favorite in the NFL MVP race, had an MRI on Monday that revealed the severity of the injury. Wentz was hurt late in the third quarter Sunday at Los Angeles. Backup Nick Foles rallied the Eagles (11-2) to a 43-35 win over the Rams that secured the NFC East title and put them in first place in the conference with three games remaining.

The Eagles have overcome several key injuries and now have to move forward without their most indispensable player. Nine-time Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters, return specialist/running back Darren Sproles, star linebacker Jordan Hicksand special teams captain Chris Maragos already went down for the season.

"If there's ever an opportunity for me to rally the troops as the football coach, now might be the time," Pederson said. "You can't lose faith. This has been a resilient football team all season long."

After starting all 16 games as a rookie, Wentz made a giant leap this year. He passed for 3,296 yards and set a franchise single-season record with 33 touchdown passes while only tossing seven interceptions.

Foles led the Eagles to a pair of field goals on consecutive drives against the Rams. He is 20-17 as a starter in six seasons with the Eagles, Rams and Chiefs.

Pederson insisted the offense won't change with Foles.

"He's a highly intelligent football player," Pederson said.

A third-round pick by former Eagles coach Andy Reid in 2012, Foles in his second stint in Philadelphia. He replaced an injured Michael Vick in 2013 and led the Eagles to an NFC East title during Chip Kelly's first season as coach. Foles tied an NFL record with seven TD passes in a game at Oakland in November 2013 and finished that season with 27 TDs and only two picks. The Eagles lost at home to New Orleans in the playoffs. Foles went to the Pro Bowl and was the offensive MVP.

But Kelly traded Foles to St. Louis for Sam Bradford after the 2014 season. Foles spent a year with the Rams, a season with the Chiefs and returned to Philadelphia as a free agent this season.

Second-year pro Nate Sudfeld is Philadelphia's No. 3 quarterback. Pederson said he hasn't spoken to personnel boss Howie Roseman about adding a third quarterback yet.

"I'm absolutely ready to go - need be," Foles said after the win over the Rams. "I prepare every day."