Cowboys RB Elliott suspended six games
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[August 12, 2017]
The Sports Xchange
Dallas Cowboys star running back
Ezekiel Elliott was suspended six games by the NFL on Friday for
violating the league's personal conduct policy after multiple
domestic violence incidents.
The six-game ban is the penalty for first-time offenders of the
league's new domestic violent policy.
The suspension is scheduled to begin Sept. 2 and Elliott is eligible
to return to the Cowboys' roster on Oct. 23, one day after the
team's Week 7 road game against the San Francisco 49ers.
As a result of the suspension, the guarantees in the four-year,
$24.956 million deal Elliott signed with Dallas in 2016 will be
voided, per ESPN. Elliott will forfeit $559,192 in 2017 salary,
according to salary cap website Spotrac.
In addition, Elliott will give up $240,000 per missed game in
signing-bonus money if the suspension is upheld.
In a personal statement posted later Friday on social media, Elliott
said, "I am both surprised and disappointed by the NFL's decision
today, and I strongly disagree with the league's findings.
"I recognize the distraction and disruption that all of this has
caused my family, friends, teammates, the Dallas Cowboys
organization as well as my fans -- for that I am sincerely sorry.
"I admit that I am far from perfect, but I plan to continue to work
very hard, on and off the field, to mature and earn the great
opportunity I have been given."
Elliott plans to appeal the suspension, his representatives said in
a statement. Elliott has three business days to file 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.
Elliott and his representatives disputed the NFL's conclusions and
issued the following statement:
"We just learned of the NFL's decision to suspend Mr. Elliott for
six games for allegedly engaging in 'physical force' against the
accuser. Mr. Elliott and his team of representatives are extremely
disappointed with the NFL's decision.
"Our offices have been engaged in this matter since last July and
have worked hand in hand with the Columbus Prosecutor's office as
well as the NFL with their respective investigations. Accordingly,
we are fully aware of the full body of evidence that exists in
connection with this matter.
"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.
"For example, both the Columbus Prosecutor's office as well as the
NFL investigators expressly concluded and conveyed to our office
(and others) that the accuser was lying about an alleged July 22,
2016 incident whereby she accused Mr. Elliott of pulling her out of
her car and assaulting her. An allegation that was ultimately
undermined by her own friend's affidavit which stated that no such
assault occurred. The affidavit also outlined the accuser's plan to
orchestrate a story to police in order to corroborate her false
allegation of assault. In addition, the NFL's own medical experts
concluded that many of her injuries predated the week in question
and likely occurred during a period of time when Mr. Elliott was not
in contact with the accuser. During the upcoming weeks and through
the appeal a slew of additional credible and controverting evidence
will come to light."
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NFL officials said in a statement that it
investigated Elliott's case thoroughly and determined that he
violated the personal conduct policy. The league examined text
messages, interviewed more than a dozen witnesses -- including
Elliott and the accuser -- and retained medical and legal experts to
help (commissioner Roger) Goodell reach his decision.
Elliott, 22, is accused by former girlfriend Tiffany
Thompson of five domestic assault incidents in July 2016 in
Columbus, Ohio, and has been under NFL investigation, although the
city attorney's office already announced he will not face criminal
Peter Harvey, the former attorney general for New Jersey who aided
the NFL's investigation, said the league analyzed metadata related
to the photographs and determined the photos were taken on the date
the woman said the violence occurred.
Harvey said Elliott's representatives presented "alternative
theories" to how she may have sustained the injuries, but did not
offer evidence of the injuries occurring under those circumstances.
"So while alternative theories are interesting, in my judgment they
have to be supported by evidence, and that was lacking in this
particular situation," Harvey said.
NFL vice president of communications Joe Lockhart said Friday that
the league told Elliott he used "poor judgment and questionable
behavior" in pulling down the woman's top during a St. Patrick's Day
incident, but that the action did not rise to the level of adding to
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is reportedly "furious" with the league's
decision to suspend Elliott, according to ESPN.
"Over the course of the last year, the league conducted an extensive
investigation," a league statement read Friday. "League
investigators interviewed more than a dozen witnesses, including Ms.
Tiffany Thompson, who had alleged multiple instances of physical
violence in July 2016, and Mr. Elliott. The league also consulted
with medical experts. League investigators examined all available
evidence, including photographic and digital evidence, thousands of
text messages and other records of electronic communications.
"... After reviewing the record, and having considered the views of
the independent advisors, the (NFL) commissioner determined that the
credible evidence established that Elliott engaged in conduct that
violated NFL policy."
The NFL Players' Association also issued a statement saying it is
reviewing the league's decision and has been "in touch with Ezekiel
and his representatives to consider all options."
Jones previously said that the focus of the league's investigation
was centered around Elliott's behavior and not the domestic violence
"I have reviewed everything, and there is absolutely nothing -- not
one thing -- that had anything to do with domestic violence," Jones
said during the team's training camp.
The second-year back is coming off a sensational rookie season in
which he rushed for a Cowboys-rookie-record 1,631 yards and 15
touchdowns en route to his first career Pro Bowl selection.
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