Ezekiel Elliott posted a statement Friday evening in which he apologized for causing “distraction and disruption.” The Cowboys running back also said that he disagreed “strongly” with the NFL, which announced earlier in the day that it was handing him a six-game suspension for violating its personal conduct policy.
Accusing Elliott of committing “multiple instances of physical violence” against a former girlfriend, Tiffany Thompson, the NFL concluded a year-long investigation with a punishment that Elliott, through his lawyers, has vowed to appeal. “During the upcoming weeks and through this appeal a slew of additional credible and controverting evidence will come to light,” the attorneys, Frank Salzano and Scott Rosenblum, said in a news release.
“I am both surprised and disappointed by the NFL’s decision today, and I strongly disagree with the League’s findings,” Elliott said in his statement, which was posted to social media. “I recognize the distraction and disruption that all of this has caused my family, 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 that I have been given.”
In a letter to Elliott, the NFL cited incidents of domestic violence reported by Thompson to police in Columbus, Ohio, during July 2016. At the time, Elliott was a new member of the Cowboys, having been drafted fourth overall following a stellar career at Ohio State.
The league also noted an incident during a St. Patrick’s Day parade in Dallas this year, when Elliott pulled down a woman’s shirt, exposing and touching her breast. Although no arrests were made in either episode, the NFL said that “[even] when a player is not charged with a crime, he may still be found to have violated the [personal conduct] policy if the credible evidence establishes that he engaged in conduct prohibited” by it.
“Mr. Elliott and his team of representatives are extremely disappointed with the NFL’s decision,” Elliott’s lawyers said. “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 has three days from receipt of the letter to file an appeal, and assuming he does so, he will have a hearing within 10 days of his filing. If his ban is not overturned, he will have to sit out the Cowboys’ first six games and will not be able to practice with the team or use its facilities until the suspension ends.
That would constitute a major on-field setback for Dallas, which relied heavily on the rookie running back last season and was rewarded with a 13-3 record and an NFC East title. Elliott, who led the league in rushing yardage and earned first-team all-pro honors, stands to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars, and possibly millions, in lost wages and signing-bonus money he may have to repay the team.
Yahoo’s Charles Robinson reported that Elliott “is willing to take this whole suspension appeal through courts if he has to.” The proceedings over the league’s punishment could then “drag out a long time,” Robinson noted.
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