Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott, the N.F.L.’s leading rusher as a rookie last season, has been suspended six games without pay for violating the league’s personal conduct policy.
The N.F.L., after a yearlong probe, reached its decision after reviewing Elliott’s behavior during a six-day stretch in July 2016 in which his ex-girlfriend accused him of assaulting her five times in Columbus, Ohio, where he played at Ohio State. Elliott was not arrested or charged because prosecutors concluded that the woman’s statements conflicted with those made by Elliott and witnesses. But he remained subject to discipline by the league.
He can appeal within three days. If he does not appeal, his suspension will begin Sept. 2.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has repeatedly defended Elliott, recently saying that his review of the situation suggested “not one thing – that had anything to do with domestic violence.”
The N.F.L. absorbed withering criticism for its 2014 handling of a domestic violence incident involving the former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, who initially received a two-game suspension after he was charged for assaulting his fiancée, who is now his wife. Only after video surfaced of the incident, in which Rice knocked out his fiancée in the elevator of the Atlantic City casino, did the N.F.L. suspend him indefinitely.
Admitting that he had mismanaged the case, Goodell overhauled the personal conduct policy, introducing harsher guidelines for players and league employees involved in domestic violence cases by mandating six-game suspensions instead of two for first-time offenders.
That rule has since been applied inconsistently. Jets receiver Quincy Enunwa had a suspension reduced to four games in October 2015 because he cooperated throughout the process. By contrast, the former Giants kicker Josh Brown, who wrote about being “physically, verbally and emotionally” abusive to his wife, was suspended for only one game.
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