Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott has been suspended six games by the NFL.
According to ESPN for violating the personal conduct policy, the league announced Friday. According to an internal investigation that has spanned for more than a year after an ex-girlfriend accused Elliott of domestic violence in Columbus, Ohio. Although the Columbus City Attorney’s office announced that it would not pursue charges against Elliott back in September due to “conflicting and inconsistent information,” the NFL has decided to issue a suspension based on their policy giving them the ability to penalize a player even without legal charges.
NFL officials said in a statement that it investigated Elliott’s case thoroughly and determined that he violated the personal conduct policy. The league investigation included a review of text messages, interviews of more than a dozen witnesses, the accuser, and Elliott himself.
Elliott has three business days to file a notice of appeal, and a hearing must be scheduled within 10 days of receipt of the notice, according to Article 46 of the collective bargaining agreement, which governs appeal of commissioner discipline.
The NFL Players Association said in a statement that it is reviewing the league’s decision and has been in contact with Elliott and his representatives to consider their options.
Legal authorities concluded that they could not prove Elliott’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt after several witnesses testified to hearing the woman yell at Elliott that she would “ruin his career” when he attempted to end their relationship.
The NFL revealed that it wasn’t simply just the domestic violence case that helped them reach their decision. The NFL reportedly considered multiple incidents including the domestic violence allegations from February 2016, July 2016, and a St. Patrick’s Day incident this March in which Elliot was seen pulling down a woman’s shirt, although the latter did not factor into the league’s decided disciplinary actions. The NFL also pointed out an incident before the team left for training camp, in which Elliot allegedly injured a man’s nose in a Dallas bar that resulted in a suspended investigation after police couldn’t contact the victim and no witnesses came forward.
But Ultimately it was the July 2016 incident that led to the NFL’s decision. ESPN also reports that a letter sent to Elliott advising him of the league’s decision, the NFL said the experts “were of the view that there is substantial and persuasive evidence supporting a finding that [Elliott] engaged in physical violence” in July 2016.
The league also ordered Elliott to arrange a clinical evaluation and to comply with any recommendations for counseling or treatment. In addition to missing play time, Elliot is also getting hit in the pockets, after being ordered to pay for each game missed, totaling $240,000 in addition to losing his $24.956 million deal.
Elliott is the third Cowboys player who will miss time this season because of a suspension. Defensive end Randy Gregory has been suspended for the season after multiple violations of the substance-abuse policy. Defensive end David Irving has been suspended the first four games for violating the performance-enhancing drug policy.
Without an appeal, Elliott’s suspension would begin Sept. 2. He would be eligible to return to the active roster Oct. 23, the day after the Cowboys’ Week 7 game against the San Francisco 49ers.