Cowboys declare their support of RB Ezekiel Elliott

The Dallas Cowboys have filed in court a declaration of support of the NFL Players Association's emergency motion for a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction fighting the six-game suspension levied by the league against running back Ezekiel Elliott.

Cowboys general counsel Jason Cohen observed the three-day appeal hearing Elliott took part in this week in New York.

He wrote that Elliott's six-game suspension would "cause the Cowboys irreparable harm." He said Elliott plays a "critical role on our team -- both as a leader and a player" and every practice and game that Elliott misses "will hurt our team's chances of having a successful season and making it to the 2017-2018 NFL playoffs and hopefully the Super Bowl."

The NFLPA filed a request for a temporary restraining order in the Eastern District of Texas, calling for the courts to block any suspension upheld by NFL arbitrator Harold Henderson, according to a court filing obtained by ESPN on Friday.

The filing accused the league's appeals process of being "fundamentally unfair" and citing new facts revealed during this week's hearing that wrapped up Thursday.

If Henderson rules that Elliott should remain suspended for any stretch of games, the court then can decide to stay the suspension while it reviews the matter, and Elliott could potentially be allowed to play while the case works its way through the courts.

EARLIER

The NFL says Commissioner Roger Goodell was aware of one of his lead investigator's view that Ezekiel Elliott shouldn't be disciplined before the Dallas running back was suspended for six games in a domestic violence case.

League spokesman Brian McCarthy on Friday disputed a key claim in a lawsuit filed by the players' union on behalf of Elliott seeking to vacate an upcoming ruling on an appeal. McCarthy says Goodell knew of investigator Kia Roberts' belief that Elliott's accuser wasn't credible before deciding to suspend Elliott.

Arbitrator Harold Henderson is expected to rule on Elliott's appeal soon. The lawsuit filed late Thursday night in federal court in Texas seeks to pre-empt Henderson's ruling with the intent of making Elliott eligible to play in the season opener Sept. 10 against the New York Giants.

Elliott, the NFL's 2016 rushing leader as a rookie, was suspended after the league concluded he used physical force last summer in Ohio against Tiffany Thompson, his girlfriend at the time. Prosecutors didn't pursue the case, citing conflicting evidence. Elliott denied the allegations under oath in the appeal hearing, according to the lawsuit.

USA TODAY & AP SPORTS

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