Though the Dallas Cowboys believed they’d be armed with star running back Ezekiel Elliott in Week 1 of the upcoming NFL season, it looks like they’ll have to wait until Week 8 for his return to the field. The league has suspended the 2016 rushing yards leader for six games for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy.
The suspension marks the end of a 13-month investigation into an ex-girlfriend’s accusation of domestic violence in Columbus, Ohio, where the city attorney dropped the case due to “conflicting and inconsistent information.” Since the investigation began, Elliott was caught on camera pulling a woman’s top down at a St. Patrick’s Day parade, and was accused of taking part in a bar fight.
In a letter to Elliott, NFL Special Counsel for Conduct Todd Jones wrote that outside NFL advisors “were of the view that there is substantial and persuasive evidence supporting a finding that [Elliott] engaged in physical violence against [a woman he had a relationship with] on multiple occasions during the week of July 16, 2016.”
Here’s the league’s official announcement:
— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) August 11, 2017
Hours before the ruling came out, the Cowboys weren’t stressing.
“I think we’re confident it’s going to work out, and he’s said it all along to us as teammates,” said tight end Jason Witten. “You know the guy’s a remarkable player. Big, strong, athletic; he’s smart, he’s tough. He’s good out of the backfield.
“That’s an area of strength of our team with those running backs, but certainly he’s one of the best in the league. You’d miss somebody like that if he is out, but we fully anticipate he’ll be out there and playing and continue to grow as a player on and off the field.”
Star wideout Dez Bryant agreed with Witten that Elliott would be ready to play on opening day: “He’s going to be there. That’s all I’m going to tell you.”
Ezekiel Elliott has three business days to file for an appeal of his suspension.