OXNARD (105.3 The Fan) – The Ezekiel Elliott saga finally has some form of closure as the NFL suspended the Cowboys running back for six games on Friday.
In a statement released on Friday, the NFL says they suspended Elliott for a violation of the Personal Conduct Policy.
“Over the course of the last year, the league conducted an extensive investigation. 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.
Pursuant to the Personal Conduct Policy, Commissioner Goodell sought the views of four external advisors to assist him in evaluating potential violations. These experts range in experience from law enforcement, judicial and public service, and other specialized subject areas.
The advisors participated in a meeting on June 26, 2017 in New York City with Elliott, who was represented by his legal team and the NFL Players Association. The group also reviewed the league’s investigative reports and materials, the expert medical reports, and multiple NFL Players Association submissions on Elliott’s behalf.
In a letter to Elliott advising him of the decision, Todd Jones, the NFL’s Special Counsel for Conduct, said these advisors “were of the view that there is substantial and persuasive evidence supporting a finding that [Elliott] engaged in physical violence against Ms. Thompson on multiple occasions during the week of July 16, 2016.”
After reviewing the record, and having considered the views of the independent advisors, the commissioner determined that the credible evidence established that Elliott engaged in conduct that violated NFL policy.”
Elliott tweeted his reaction to the NFL’s decision Friday night.
Friday afternoon, 105.3 The Fan’s Mike Fisher said Elliott was expected to appeal the suspension. Hours later, Elliott’s representatives released a statement condemning the NFL’s investigation and confirming they will appeal.
In the statement, Elliott’s representatives blasted the league for their “factual inaccuracies and erroneous conclusions.”
The statement said that the NFL “cherry picks so called evidence to support its conclusion while ignoring other critical evidence.”
Elliot has three days to formally file for an appeal.
According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, Elliott stands to lose more than $8 million in guaranteed money if he misses time on the field.
The Cowboys have yet to comment on the suspension, however, Jerry Jones is “furious” over the decision, according to Fisher.
In a tweet after the announcement, the NFL Players Association said they “are reviewing the decision and have been in touch with Ezekiel and his representatives to consider all options.”
Elliott was involved in numerous off-the-field incidents since he became a member of the Cowboys.
A woman in Ohio accused him of abuse in 2016, however, police in Ohio declined to charge him with any crime. She broke her silence to TMZ.com in July, saying the incident changed her life forever and calls her relationship with the Dallas Cowboys RB “very toxic.”
She posted photos on her Instagram account last year showing bruise she alleged were the result of domestic abuse.
In a conference call on Friday, NFL external advisor Peter Harvey said: “I reached a conclusion Mr. Elliott engaged in physical force that resulted in injury.”
Harvey also said their investigation determined that the victim, Tiffany Thompson, took photos of her injuries a day after she was with Elliott.
In a letter to the running back, the NFL says there was an altercation on July 17 in which Elliott used physical force that caused injuries to Thompson’s arms, neck and shoulders. The letter further states that the injuries are portrayed in several photographs and were confirmed by forensic analysts to have been taken by Thompson the following day.
Furthermore, the letter states that several of the injuries were depicted in photographs taken by the Columbus Police Department and Thompson’s family.
In a separate incident on July 21, the letter states that Elliott caused harm to Thompson’s face, neck, arms, knees and hips, and Thompson took photos of those injuries later that afternoon.
In both incidents, the NFL says that medical experts determined the injuries displayed appear recent and consistent with Thompson’s description of the incidents and how they occurred.
In the letter to Elliott, the NFL outlined how he violated the Personal Conduct Policy.
“Even when a player is not charged with a crime, “‘he may still be found to have violated the policy if the credible evidence establishes that he engaged in conduct prohibited by this Personal Conduct Policy,'” the statement reads. “As this policy states, ‘(i)t is not enough simply avoiding being found guilty of a crime. We are all held to a high standard and must conduct ourselves in a way that is responsible, promotes the values of the NFL, and is lawful.'”
On the conference call, Harvey said a prosecutor in Ohio believed Thompson’s story but didn’t have sufficient evidence to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt.
Harvey also stated that Elliott’s representatives suggested in a meeting with him that the victim “maybe fell down the stairs,” or was injured in a fight with another woman at a bar, or someone else may have caused the injuries. He stated that the investigative team didn’t have any witnesses to back up those suggestions and that they learned no punches were thrown in that particular fight.
The letter states that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell found that Elliott provided no persuasive evidence with respect to how Thompson’s obvious injuries occurred.
In the letter to Elliott, the NFL says they will not consider the St. Patrick’s Day Parade incident as a basis for additional discipline under the policy but that he needs to understand that his behavior was “inappropriate and disturbing.”
Elliott was caught on video pulling down a woman’s shirt at the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Dallas.
The letter ends with Commissioner Goodell informing Elliott that another violation of this nature may result in Elliott’s suspension or banishment from the NFL.
Elliott was also allegedly involved in an altercation at a bar in Dallas in July. A man there was treated for a broken nose but said he didn’t know who hit him at the time of the incident. Dallas officers said they attempted to get in touch with the victim over the course of the next few days, but were unable to get his cooperation.
He also was seen visiting a marijuana shop in Seattle last season. Marijuana is legal in the state of Washington, but it’s banned in the NFL.
The NFL did not take those incidents into consideration for Elliott’s suspension.