Eagles

NFL moving quickly to reverse halt on Ezekiel Elliott's 6-game ban

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NFL moving quickly to reverse halt on Ezekiel Elliott's 6-game ban

FRISCO, Texas -- The NFL moved quickly Monday in hopes of reversing a federal judge's decision that has blocked the league's six-game suspension of star Dallas running back Ezekiel Elliott over a domestic violence case in Ohio.

The league asked the judge who ruled in Elliott's favor to stop the preliminary injunction that cleared last year's NFL rushing leader to play while the case is in court. A notice of appeal was also filed with the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.

The NFL's latest filings came about 12 hours after Elliott rushed for 104 yards in the Cowboys' 19-3 season-opening win over the New York Giants at home Sunday night.

"Just relieved from the fact that I finally get a fair trial," Elliott said after the game in his first public comments since before the Cowboys reported for training camp in July. "I finally get a chance to prove my innocence. And I'm just happy I'm able to be with these guys for as long as it's permitted and just not having to miss time and not being away from them."

The 22-year-old Elliott was suspended by Commissioner Roger Goodell last month, and attorneys with the NFL Players' Association contended in a lawsuit that Elliott didn't get a fair hearing in an appeal that was denied.

Elliott had already been cleared to play in the season opener when U.S. District Judge Amos Mazzant granted a temporary restraining order and injunction blocking the suspension Friday.

The case could play out for months.

New England quarterback Tom Brady's four-game suspension over "Deflategate" was delayed by a year when a federal judge ruled in his favor. Brady served the suspension to start last season after an appeals court reversed the ruling and backed Goodell's authority to suspend him.

If Mazzant denies the emergency request to put his own ruling on hold pending further hearings, the NFL could make a similar argument to the appeals court in hopes of getting a hearing within days after Mazzant decides.

Without an NFL win on an emergency request in either court, the timeline likely would clear Elliott to play his entire second season after he led the league in rushing as a rookie.

The case apparently will stay in the Texas court for at least a week after Mazzant gave Elliott's side until Wednesday to respond to the NFL's request for a stay. The NFL would then have until Friday to respond to arguments from Elliott's legal team before Mazzant rules on the motion, presumably next week.

"It may be difficult for the NFL to convince the 5th Circuit that this is truly an emergency," said Gabe Feldman, director of the sports law program at Tulane University Law School. "The argument here is that the NFL could later enforce the suspension."

Elliott was suspended by Goodell in August after the league concluded he had several physical confrontations last summer with Tiffany Thompson, a former girlfriend. Prosecutors in Columbus, Ohio, decided about a year ago not to pursue the case in the city where Elliott starred for Ohio State, citing conflicting evidence.

The NFL kept its investigation open, and said its conclusions were based on photographs, text messages and other electronic evidence. The league has argued that it acted within the parameters of a labor agreement that gives Goodell broad authority to suspend players. The league also said the appeal process was consistent with its personal conduct policy.

"As far as the argument to the court of appeals, we think the scope and review in labor arbitration is very limited and we believe the judge went well beyond what is permitted as far as scope," NFL vice president of communications Joe Lockhart said.

Mazzant's ruling took aim at appeal hearing officer Harold Henderson and the NFL, saying decisions not to allow Goodell and Thompson to testify at the appeal were among several factors unfair to Elliott. The running back denied the allegations under oath during the appeal.

The judge also faulted the league for what he saw as several efforts to conceal the opinion of co-lead investigator Kia Roberts. She testified at the appeal that she didn't think Thompson was credible and didn't support any punishment for Elliott.

Three years ago, the NFL stiffened penalties in domestic violence cases after getting sharply criticized for its handling of former Baltimore running back Ray Rice.

Elliott had 1,631 yards rushing last season, helping Dallas to the best record in the NFC at 13-3. He had another 36 yards receiving in the opener against the Giants as the Cowboys beat the NFC East rival that swept them last season.

Eagles' rookie schools veteran in intense practice

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Eagles' rookie schools veteran in intense practice

Rasul Douglas made a huge play during the special teams portion of Wednesday's practice. Going 1-on-1 against veteran special teamer Najee Goode, the Eagles' rookie plowed through him and sent Goode to the turf inside the practice bubble. 

Goode bounced up and locked down the next rep, but for a few seconds, there was pure exuberance on the practice field. A bunch of Douglas' teammates ran toward him and celebrated, while coaches gave him kudos. 

A couple hours later, Douglas didn't even remember it. 

"What play?" the rookie asked. 

After making sure he was serious, out came an iPhone to show Douglas this video: 

"Oh, I don't even remember that," he said. 

While Douglas might have been locked in and focused enough to forget about the most exciting play during the open portion of Wednesday's practice, it was the kind of play that got the whole team going. 

Without remembering the specific instance, Douglas rightly guessed that it was his defensive back teammates, who ran over to congratulate him and celebrate. 

"We get so happy when one of us makes a play because we work hard and we know our goals in our room," Douglas said. "And we know our energy transforms and just passes along to other people. You can get somebody energized and they get somebody else energized." 

Head coach Doug Pederson elected to have his team in pads Wednesday in an effort to keep the team's intensity and physicality high as the team gets ready for the NFC Championship Game. 

That play helped. 

"I think Coach Pederson talks about it all the time; match his intensity," linebacker Nate Gerry said. "So when you see something like that, I guess that's matching the intensity. It just kind of sets the tone for practice."

During the Eagles' first-round bye, the team's players council went to Pederson and asked for an extra day in pads. Pederson planned on one leading into the divisional round game against the Falcons, but his veteran leaders didn't want to go an extra week without that intensity, so the Eagles strapped on their pads. 

They did it again last week and they did it again Wednesday. 

All season the Eagles have believed they're going to play the way they practice, so it shouldn't be much of a shocker. Pederson and the Eagles — despite all the hoopla around the championship — tried to treat Wednesday like any other Wednesday. In part, that meant getting the pads on and going through a tough practice. 

"We ain't going to play on Sunday without pads, so you just have keep in tune with what you do," Douglas said. "I think pads are good." 

Zach Ertz makes largest jump in NFL jersey sales

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Zach Ertz makes largest jump in NFL jersey sales

Eagles tight end Zach Ertz has moved into the top 10 in NFL jersey sales this week, according to national sales figures from Dick’s Sporting Goods.

This week’s Dick’s Jersey Report shows Ertz making the biggest jump in the top 10, moving up 22 spots from No. 29 last week to No. 7 this week.

“There must have been a lot of women’s soccer fans buying jerseys this week,” Ertz said jokingly, referring to his wife Julie, a member of the U.S. Olympic soccer team.

Could be. It’s not like Ertz had a huge game Saturday. He caught three passes for 32 yards in the Eagles’ 15-10 win over the Falcons in the conference semifinal playoff round at the Linc. But he did make his first Pro Bowl this year and finished the season with 74 catches for 824 yards and eight touchdowns.

Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs, who caught the miracle last-second pass from Case Keenum to send the Vikings into the NFC Championship Game in Philadelphia on Sunday, also made a huge jump, moving from No. 23 to No. 4.

Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz remains in the No. 2 position in jersey sales, despite not playing since he tore his ACL Dec. 10 in Los Angeles. Only Tom Brady’s jersey sold better over the past week.

The rest of the top 10 is Rob Gronkowski third, Antonio Brown fifth, Leonard Fournette sixth, T.J. Watt eighth, Julio Jones ninth and Le’Veon Bell 10th.

Wentz remains the top-selling jersey this year, according to Dick’s after finishing last year at No. 3. Tom Brady, the top-selling jersey last year, is No. 2, followed by Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott and Gronkowski.

There are no Eagles other than Wentz and Ertz in the top 50.