Cow­boys’ El­liott banned for six games in do­mes­tic case

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - SCHUYLER DIXON

Dal­las Cow­boys run­ning back Ezekiel El­liott was sus­pended for six games Fri­day af­ter a year-long Na­tional Foot­ball League in­ves­ti­ga­tion of his do­mes­tic vi­o­lence case in Ohio.

The 2016 NFL rush­ing leader was sus­pended de­spite pros­e­cu­tors in Colum­bus, Ohio, de­cid­ing a year ago not to pur­sue the case in­volv­ing El­liott’s girl­friend at the time in the same city where he starred for Ohio State. The league, how­ever, said there was “sub­stan­tial and per­sua­sive ev­i­dence” that El­liott had phys­i­cal con­fronta­tions last sum­mer with his then­girl­friend, Tif­fany Thompson.

El­liott will be el­i­gi­ble to re­turn to the ac­tive ros­ter on Oct. 23. His first pos­si­ble game will be Week 8 at Washington.

El­liott, who turned 22 last month, has three days to ap­peal the rul­ing. One of his agents didn’t im­me­di­ately re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment. The NFL Play­ers As­so­ci­a­tion said it was re­view­ing the de­ci­sion and had been in touch with El­liott’s rep­re­sen­ta­tives to con­sider his op­tions. The rul­ing re­quires El­liott to get an eval­u­a­tion to de­ter­mine whether he needs coun­selling or treat­ment, and to show proof that he is fol­low­ing up on any rec­om­men­da­tions that are made.

The league re­vised its per­sonal con­duct pol­icy in 2014 fol­low­ing sharp crit­i­cism of a case in­volv­ing for­mer Bal­ti­more run­ning back Ray Rice. The pol­icy gave com­mis­sioner Roger Good­ell au­thor­ity to sus­pend play­ers for at least six games in do­mes­tic cases, with or with­out a con­vic­tion.

In a let­ter to El­liott in­form­ing him of the league’s de­ci­sion, NFL spe­cial coun­sel for con­duct Todd Jones said ad­vis­ers brought in by the league “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.”

Last Septem­ber, the of­fice of Colum­bus City At­tor­ney Richard Pfeif­fer cited con­flict­ing and in­con­sis­tent in­for­ma­tion in the ev­i­dence in de­cid­ing against crim­i­nal charges.

The NFL’s let­ter to El­liott cited the Ohio case and an in­ci­dent this past spring when El­liott was caught on video pulling down a woman’s shirt while watch­ing a St. Pa­trick’s Day pa­rade in Dal­las.

The de­ci­sion came de­spite Cow­boys owner Jerry Jones say­ing he hadn’t seen any­thing to in­di­cate El­liott was guilty of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence and that he didn’t think his star back would be sus­pended. Jones made the com­ments sev­eral times, in­clud­ing dur­ing fes­tiv­i­ties last week­end when he was in­ducted into the Pro Foot­ball Hall of Fame.

El­liott has had a string of off-field is­sues in the year since the Cow­boys made him the fourth over­all pick in the 2016 draft. He was seen in a le­gal mar­i­juana shop dur­ing the preseason in Seat­tle last year and was also in­volved in a bar fight in Dal­las a week be­fore train­ing camp this year.

The All-Pro back fin­ished with 1,631 yards rush­ing in help­ing the Cow­boys to the best record in the NFC at 13-3 be­fore a di­vi­sional play­off loss to Green Bay. He set rookie fran­chise records for yards, rush­ing touch­downs (15) and to­tal touch­downs (16).

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS FILE PHOTO

Dal­las Cow­boys run­ning back Ezekiel El­liott signs au­to­graphs at train­ing camp in Ox­nard, Calif.

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