Ezekiel Elliott Interviewed by NFL over Domestic Violence Allegations

Rob GoldbergFeatured Columnist

GREEN BAY, WI - OCTOBER 16: Ezekiel Elliott #21 of the Dallas Cowboys walks on the field before the game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on October 16, 2016 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott spoke to NFL officials regarding domestic violence allegations made against him by his ex-girlfriend, Tom Pelissero of USA Today reported Oct. 27.

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told Pelissero that the league is actively reviewing the matter.

On Sunday, CBSSports.com's Jason La Canfora reported that Elliott "could face a lengthy suspension if the NFL's investigation finds he has violated the league's domestic abuse policy." La Canfora continued:

Multiple sources said that during the recent league meetings in Houston, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones raised the topic of the probe with Lisa Friel, a former New York prosecutor who spearheads the NFL's domestic violence investigations as a special counsel for the league. According to these sources, the interaction between Jones and Friel occurred with other league and team executives within earshot, and Friel did not respond to Jones during the interaction.

After the Cowboys' Week 8 win over the Philadelphia Eagles, Elliott commented on the investigation, per Stephen Hawkins of the Associated Press: "All I can do is not worry about it, focus on this team and do whatever I can do to help these guys get wins."

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones acknowledged speaking with the NFL's special counsel for domestic violence investigations, per Hawkins. When asked if the discussion was contentious, Jones responded, "Well, I don't know about that, but certainly, the volume of it had a lot to do with noise in there."

Jones spoke again about the matter on Tuesday morning on 105.3 The Fan, stating that he had not heard any new information "that would create this recent attention," according to Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News.

Elliott's legal advisor, Frank Salzano, sent Ian Rapoport of NFL Network a press release stating his firm belief the running back will be cleared:  

The rookie was accused of five instances of domestic violence from July 17 to July 22. On Sept. 6, the Columbus, Ohio, Police Department announced it would not charge Elliott with any crime, per Jerod Smalley of NBC4.

Robert S. Tobias, the principal assistant city attorney in Columbus, told Pelissero that he believes violent incidents occurred between Elliott and his ex-girlfriend:

For the Ezekiel Elliott matter, I personally believe that there were a series of interactions between Mr. Elliott and (his accuser) where violence occurred. However, given the totality of the circumstances, I could not firmly conclude exactly what happened. Saying something happened versus having sufficient evidence to criminally charge someone are two completely different things. Charging decisions are taken very seriously and we use best efforts to conduct thorough and detailed investigations.

Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reported on Oct. 30 that Elliott's ex-girlfriend is cooperating with the investigation.

"I'm a target; that's what I've realized from all of this," Elliott said after the case was dropped, per Clarence E. Hill Jr. of the Star-Telegram. "I've got to conduct myself that way so I cannot have any distractions and I can just focus on ball."

Elliott, the No. 4 pick in the 2016 draft, ranks second in the NFL with 703 rushing yards.

The league is under criticism again for its handling of domestic abuse cases after New York Giants kicker Josh Brown admitted to abusing his wife. The team released Brown on Tuesday, but the process was full of missteps, as Albert Breer of The MMQB argued.

"I think we've made tremendous progress," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell told Gary Myers of Chalk Talk on Oct. 26, per Christian Red of the New York Daily News. "Can we make more, and will we make more? Of course."