NFL Hall of Fame running back Marshall Faulk said Dallas Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott understands that he needs to mature in the wake of the six-game suspension the NFL handed him following its investigation into allegations of domestic violence.
"Obviously, we all have to grow up in life and make mistakes, and sometimes some of those mistakes cost you dearly," Faulk said after his on-field conversation with Elliott before the Dallas Cowboys played the Los Angeles Rams in a preseason game Saturday night, per Brandon George of the Dallas Morning News. "It's another thing of just understanding the magnitude of what's around you and how things are."
"We're not talking about a kid who is dumbfounded and doesn't know," Faulk added. "It's not just about making the right decision, but when things start to go wrong knowing when to walk away. I say this to him often, this platform and this stage that you're on, it's bigger than you think. The Cowboys, the [NFL], it's bigger than Zeke. Sometimes it doesn't seem fair. We all want it to be fair, but sometimes it's not."
Elliott, 22, was accused of domestic violence by a woman claiming to be his ex-girlfriend, Tiffany Thompson, in July 2016. After contacting authorities, she claimed Elliott had assaulted her five times in the course of one week and also called the police on Elliott for assault in Feb. 2016. Elliott was never charged or arrested in either incident.
The NFL reportedly only factored in the incidents from July 2016 during its investigation and subsequent ruling.
But in the league's letter to Elliott, investigators found that "photographic and medical forensic evidence corroborates many critical elements of the allegations regarding the causes of her injuries."
Elliott and his representatives responded to the decision, per NFL.com, saying in part, "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."
Elliott also released a separate statement on Twitter:
Ezekiel Elliott @EzekielElliott
Because the Cowboys have a bye in Week 6, Elliott wouldn't be eligible to return to action until Week 8 if his suspension stands. He is expected to file his appeal Tuesday, however, per Adam Schefter of ESPN.com, and depending on how long the appeal process takes could result in him serving any suspension either later this year or potentially even next season.