NFL: Dallas Cowboys lose star running back Ezekiel Elliott to six-game suspension.
DALLAS» The NFL suspended star Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott for six games Friday, concluding after a yearlong investigation that the league’s leading 2016 rusher injured his former girlfriend in three separate incidents last summer.
According to the letter Elliott received informing him of the suspension, the NFL believed he used “physical force” three times in a span of five days in a Columbus, Ohio, apartment in July 2016 resulting in injuries to Tiffany Thompson’s face, neck, shoulders, arms, hands, wrists, hips and knees. She was his girlfriend at the time.
Prosecutors in Columbus decided nearly a year ago not to pursue the case in the city where Elliott starred for Ohio State. In announcing the suspension under the NFL’s personal conduct policy, the league said its investigation was based on photographs, text messages and other electronic evidence. Commissioner Roger Goodell made his decision based on the findings and in consultation with four advisers, including Hall of Fame inductee Ken Houston.
Elliott’s ban means the Cowboys will have four players suspended when last year’s NFC East champions start the 2017 season in just a month — with the possibility of losing two more.
The Cowboys travel to Denver in Week 2. The 22-year-old Elliott has three days to appeal the ruling, which his legal team said he would do while blasting the decision.
“The NFL’s findings are replete with factual inaccuracies and erroneous conclusions and it ‘cherry picks’ so-called evidence to support its conclusion while ignoring other critical evidence,” attorneys Frank Salzano and Scott Rosenblum said in a joint statement. “During the upcoming weeks and through the appeal, a slew of additional credible and controverting evidence will come to light.”
If Goodell’s ruling stands, Elliott will go on the suspended list the first week of the regular season and be eligible to return to the active roster Oct. 23. His first possible game would be Week 8 at Washington.
The ruling requires Elliott to get an evaluation to determine whether he needs counseling or treatment, and to show proof that he is following up on recommendations.
NFL special counsel for conduct Todd Jones wrote in the letter to Elliott that advisers “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 against Elliott. Pfeiffer’s office declined to comment Friday.
Peter Harvey, one of the advisers to Goodell, said the NFL had access to forensic electronic evidence that prosecutors didn’t have. Harvey said an example was proof that photographs were taken by Thompson the same day she alleged that she was injured by Elliott.