NFL: Dal­las Cow­boys lose star run­ning back Ezekiel El­liott to six-game sus­pen­sion.

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Schuyler Dixon

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.

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