The Dallas Cowboys look like they’ll start yet another regular season with some controversy after the NFL suspended Ezekiel Elliot for the first six games of the year.
The suspension was announced Friday afternoon by Adam Schefter, who said Elliot has three days to file an appeal.
Elliot’s ex-girlfriend accused him of domestic violence last year. Even though prosecutors in Ohio declined to press charges, the NFL took discipline into their own hands, which they’ve done in prior instances when a player has not been charged. However, the length of the suspension is what had NFL fans so infuriated.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is reportedly “furious” over the suspension.
“I have reviewed everything, and there is absolutely nothing – not one thing – that had anything to do with domestic violence,” Jones said. “My opinion is there’s not even an issue over he said, she said. There’s not even an issue there.”
Here’s the league’s statement on the suspension.
“Over the course of the last year, the league conducted an extensive investigation. League investigators interviewed more than a dozen witnesses, including Ms. Tiffany Thompson, who had alleged multiple instances of physical violence in July 2016, and Mr. Elliott. The league also consulted with medical experts. League investigators examined all available evidence, including photographic and digital evidence, thousands of text messages and other records of electronic communications.
“Pursuant to the Personal Conduct Policy, Commissioner Goodell sought the views of four external advisors (see below) to assist him in evaluating potential violations. These experts range in experience from law enforcement, judicial and public service, and other specialized subject areas.
“The advisors participated in a meeting on June 26, 2017 in New York City with Elliott, who was represented by his legal team and the NFL Players Association. The group also reviewed the league’s investigative reports and materials, the expert medical reports, and multiple NFL Players Association submissions on Elliott’s behalf.
“In a letter to Elliott advising him of the decision, Todd Jones, the NFL’s Special Counsel for Conduct, said these advisors ‘were of the view that there is substantial and persuasive evidence supporting a finding that [Elliott] engaged in physical violence against Ms. Thompson on multiple occasions during the week of July 16, 2016.’
“After reviewing the record, and having considered the views of the independent advisors, the commissioner determined that the credible evidence established that Elliott engaged in conduct that violated NFL policy.
“Elliott may appeal this decision within three days. If he does not appeal, Elliott’s suspension will begin September 2, the day of final roster reductions for NFL teams. He is eligible to participate in all preseason practices and games. Elliott will be eligible to return to the team’s active roster on Monday, October 23 following the Cowboys’ Sunday, October 22 game against the San Francisco 49ers.”
The controversy surrounding this suspension doesn’t stem so much from the suspension itself but the length. There have been numerous situations considered to be more significant than this one that didn’t receive such punishment. Somehow, though, Elliot’s allegations landed him in the NFL’s dog house for the first six weeks of the NFL season.
Elliot’s behavior over the past year played a part in the NFL’s investigation and ultimately, their decision.
Elliot helped lead the Cowboys to an NFC East championship in 2016 and led the NFL in rushing during his rookie season with 1,631 rushing yards. He also rushed for 15 touchdowns. Elliot was the fourth overall pick by the Cowboys last year.