Ezekiel Elliott Suspended 6 Games After Domestic Violence Investigation

Rob GoldbergFeatured Columnist

Dallas Cowboys' Ezekiel Elliott sprints to the end zone for a touchdown in the second half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions on Monday, Dec. 26, 2016, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)
Michael Ainsworth/Associated Press

Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott has been suspended six games without pay by the NFL for his alleged role in a domestic violence case from last July.

The NFL confirmed the decision in a release shared by Mike Garafolo of NFL.com:

The release notes that league advisors "were of the view that there is substantial and persuasive evidence supporting a finding that [Elliott] engaged in physical violence ... on multiple occasions."

Adam Schefter of ESPN first reported word of the suspension. Schefter noted Elliott is expected to appeal and must do so within three business days. A hearing must be scheduled within 10 days of the filing of the appeal, per Schefter.

If Elliott does not appeal, his suspension will begin September 2 and he'll be eligible to return on October 23, per the release. As it stands, Elliott would miss games against the New York Giants, Denver Broncos, Arizona Cardinals, Los Angeles Rams, Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers.

Elliott's first game back would be a Week 8 game against the Washington Redskins.

A source told Schefter that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is "furious" with the league's decision.

"We are reviewing the decision and have been in touch with Ezekiel and his representatives to consider all options," the NFLPA said in an email to CNN provided to Bleacher Report.

A woman who said she was Elliott's girlfriend alleged that the NFL star abused her for five days in July surrounding his 21st birthday. She also stated he abused her another time prior to the NFL draft in 2016.

The Columbus City Attorney's Office declined to press charges against Elliott due to "conflicting and inconsistent information."

Garafolo obtained the letter from the league to Elliott notifying him of the suspension, which cites "photographic evidence of three instances of 'physical force.'"

Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports shared further details from the NFL's letter, detailing specific injuries:

The letter also states, "There is no dispute that you and Ms. Thompson were together in the same location on the dates identified and no evidence to suggest that anyone else could have caused these injuries," per La Canfora.

The NFL letter also says it won't consider a St. Patrick's Day incident in which Elliott pulled down a woman's shirt, exposing her, but called it "inappropriate and disturbing," according to La Canfora.

Despite the lack of legal ramifications, the NFL holds the right to punish players even without charges due to its personal conduct policy.

The league needed a long time to conclude its investigation, with Tim Rohan of The MMQB noting the high-profile cases of Ray Rice and more recently Josh Brown led to a more thorough examination.

"I do want closure," Elliott said in January, per the Dallas Morning News. "I would rather it not drag on this long. If there was something to find, which there's not, they would've found it by now. The police did a very thorough investigation. It just seems like they're dragging their feet right now. Who knows, man. I'm just ready for it to end."

The investigation lasted throughout the offseason, even after he met with league officials in July. Meanwhile, Elliott earned more negative headlines for his off-field antics.

Although Jones had ensured people there was no case, the NFL found enough wrongdoing to deliver the suspension.

While Elliott is going into just his second year in the league, he has already become a true star for the Cowboys. He led the NFL with 1,631 rushing yards as a rookie while earning a first-team All-Pro selection.

Darren McFadden, Ronnie Hillman and Alfred Morris should all battle for playing time with Elliott out, providing more than enough depth to keep the offense running smoothly. With one of the top offensive lines in football, any of these men should be able to put up big numbers in the starter's absence.