NFL Suspends Ezekiel Elliott Six Games
The NFL announced Friday that Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott has been suspended for six games for violating the league’s personal conduct policy.
The suspension reportedly comes as a result of an investigation that began over a year ago in light of a domestic violence allegation against Elliott. Elliott’s ex-girlfriend claimed that Elliott had enacted violence against her in July of 2016 in Columbus, Ohio. However, last September, the Columbus City Attorney’s office decided that it would not pursue charges against Elliott due to “conflicting and inconsistent information.”
No Charges Filed
However, the NFL may punish a player regardless of whether legal charges are filed. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Elliott is expected to appeal the NFL’s decision. He has three business days to file a notice of appeal. A hearing must then be scheduled within 10 days.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell or NFL executive Harold Henderson would then hear the appeal and make a decision. That hearing would take place the second Tuesday after receipt of Elliott’s appeal notice. The appellate ruling would be final.
If Elliott does not appeal, his suspension will begin on September 2 and he will be eligible to return to the Cowboys’ active roster on October 23. He would be eligible to return to the field in Week 8 for the Cowboys’ game against the Washington Redskins.
Local Columbus police determined last summer that they could not charge Elliott was guilty of any crime beyond a reasonable doubt, so no charges were filed. Several witnesses alleged that they heard the woman yell at Elliott that she would “ruin his career.”
Different From Ray Rice Suspension
Elliott’s situation is quite different from that of ex-Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice. Rice was suspended in 2014 after being charged with domestic violence and subsequently agreeing to a plea deal. The league took tons of heat when it initially decided to suspend Rice for just two games at the time.
NFL officials said that they investigated Elliott’s case thoroughly and determined that his actions were in violation of the league’s personal conduct policy. The NFL reviewed text messages and interviewed several witnesses – including Elliott and his ex-girlfriend – and also used several legal experts to help Goodell come to a decision.
The NFL discovered a trio of incidents over the span of five days and cited photographic evidence of the woman’s injuries, as well. The league also determined that Elliott must undergo a clinical evaluation and must comply with any recommendations for counseling.
Jones Backs Elliott
The Cowboys’ owner, Jerry Jones, has publicly defended Elliott in the past and said that the team stands by the star running back. ESPN reported that Jones is “furious” with the league’s decision to ban Elliott for six games without any sort of legal action taking place.
Elliott is the fourth Cowboys player to have been handed a suspension ahead of the upcoming season. Damontre Moore, Randy Gregory, and David Irving have each been suspended for a variety of incidents, as well.
Some combination of Darren McFadden, Alfred Morris, Rod Smith and Ronnie Hillman will compete for carries in the Dallas backfield with Elliott sidelined at the beginning of the season. The Cowboys will open the season against the New York Giants.
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