Cowboys’ Elliott will appeal 6-game penalty
NFL has suspended Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott without pay for the first six games of the season for violating the league’s personal conduct policy, although Elliott will appeal the penalty.
Elliott, 22, the Cowboys’ first-round pick in 2016, won the NFL rushing title as a rookie and led Dallas to the top seed in the NFC. His representatives released a statement Friday saying the NFL’s findings are “replete with factual inaccuracies and erroneous conclusions.
The league “‘cherry picks’ so-called evidence to support its conclusion while ignoring other critical evidence,” the statement reads. “For example, both the Columbus [Ohio] prosecutor’s office as well as the NFL investigators expressly concluded and conveyed to our office [and others] that the accuser was lying about an alleged July 22, 2016 incident whereby she accused Mr. Elliott of pulling her out of her car and assaulting her. An allegation that was ultimately undermined by her own friend’s affidavit which stated that no such assault occurred.”
The league said in a statement Friday that it conducted “an extensive investigation” over the past year, interviewing more than a dozen witnesses, including Tiffany Thompson, who alleged several instances of physical violence by Elliott in July 2016. The league also consulted with medical experts, as well as examined all available evidence, including photographic and digital evidence, thousands of text messages and other records of electronic communications.
The statement reads: “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, 2106.’ ”
Peter Harvey, former attorney general of New Jersey and a member of Commissioner Roger Goodell’s advisory committee, said in a conference call with reporters that Elliott’s lawyers offered several possible reasons the woman might have sustained bruises.
“Mr. Elliott’s representatives argued in a meeting that, maybe Ms. Thompson fell down stairs,” he said. “There was no witness to say she fell down stairs, and there was no photograph of her falling down stairs. Mr. Elliott’s representatives suggested that maybe because she was a server, what is called bottle service, maybe she bumped into tables. There was no witness who saw Ms. Thompson bump into tables while serving anything.
“Mr. Elliott’s representatives suggested that maybe she was in a fight with another woman and the bruises — for example, the bruise on her eye and perhaps other bruises on her body — were sustained in that altercation. The NFL investigators talked to people who witnessed that altercation, and it was revealed that neither woman landed a punch on the other. They pulled each other’s hair, but they never hit each other with a balled-up fist or any other way.”
In response to the suspension, the NFL Players Assn. issued a one-sentence statement: “We are reviewing the decision and have been in touch with Ezekiel and his representatives to consider all options.”