To support their claim, Salzano and Rosenblum point to a specific incident that Elliott’s ex-girlfriend Tiffany Thompson was found to have told untruths about: that Elliott pulled her forcefully from a car on July 22, then asked her friend to vouch for it.
The NFL, however, did take that situation into account in its year-long investigation, said former New Jersey Attorney General Peter Harvey, who served as one of the four external advisers to Commissioner Roger Goodell and reviewed the 160-page investigation report. He agreed that Thompson made a “false statement” and that the July 22 incident “did not happen,” but noted on a Friday afternoon conference call with reporters that there was much more “substantial credible evidence” that supported claims that the injuries Thompson suffered in the week prior were caused by Elliott.
Among the most compelling evidence, Harvey said, was smartphone metadata that showed photographs Thompson took of her bodily injuries were snapped on the same days she had spent with Elliott.
“What the NFL investigators learned was that on at least four nights between July 16 and July 21, Mr. Elliott and Ms. Thompson stayed together in the same apartment in the same bedroom. And so these injuries did not just, at least in my judgment, magically appear on her body,” Harvey said. “So while alternative theories are interesting, in my judgment they have to be supported by evidence and that was lacking in this particular situation.”
In their statement on Friday, however, Elliott’s team promised “a slew of additional credible and controverting evidence will come to light” in the coming weeks.
Elliott and the Cowboys now have three business days to file an appeal, and a hearing on that appeal must be held within 10 days of the notice of appeal. The hearing would be heard either by Commissioner Roger Goodell or a league official designated by Goodell.
Yahoo’s Charles Robinson reported later Friday that Elliott will go to great legal lengths to clear his name, much as Tom Brady and the Patriots did during the Deflategate saga:
Should the six-game suspension hold up, Elliott’s first game back will be Oct. 29 against the Washington Redskins. Dallas’s first six games of the season are against the Giants, Broncos, Cardinals, Rams, Packers and 49ers. Elliott will not be allowed into the Cowboys’ training complex from whenever the suspension begins until it ends. Assuming the suspension stands, he will lose out on his base salary for the time missed — about $240,000 per game, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter — and will have to pay back some of the $16.350 million signing bonus he has received since joining the Cowboys as the fourth pick of the 2016 NFL draft.
“We are reviewing the decision and have been in touch with Ezekiel and his representatives to consider all options,” the NFL Players Association said in a statement emailed to The Post.
The NFL had been investigating Elliott for more than a year, with league officials looking into a number of incidents involving Elliott, who led the NFL in rushing yards and attempts during his rookie season in 2016. Elliott’s ex-girlfriend accused him of five incidents of domestic violence over a six-day period in July 2016, though prosecutors in Columbus, Ohio, declined to press charges because of “conflicting and inconsistent information” from witnesses. Thompson, whom Harvey referred to as “a victim and a survivor” on the NFL’s conference call on Friday, also had accused Elliott of pushing her against a wall during a February 2016 incident in Florida. No charges were brought in that case, either, but both incidents were reviewed by NFL investigators.
In March, Elliott was filmed pulling down a woman’s shirt, exposing one of her breasts, while watching a St. Patrick’s Day parade in Dallas.
The NFL said it interviewed more than a dozen witnesses, including Thompson, over the course of its investigation. It also consulted with medical experts and “examined all available evidence, including photographic and digital evidence, thousands of text messages and other records of electronic communications.”
“There is substantial and persuasive evidence supporting a finding that you engaged in physical violence against Ms. Thompson on multiple occasions during the week of July 16, 2016,” Todd Jones, the NFL’s special counsel for conduct, wrote in a letter to Elliott advising him of the league’s decision.
The NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo obtained the letter from Jones to Elliott:
Obtained the letter from NFL's Todd Jones to Ezekiel Elliott. It cites photographic evidence of three instances of "physical force."— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) August 11, 2017
In letter to Zeke Elliott, Todd Jones calls the parade incident "inappropriate and disturbing, and reflected a lack of respect for women."— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) August 11, 2017
Harvey added in the conference call on Friday that Elliott’s representatives were not exactly forthcoming during the investigation.
“One thing that was significant to us is that … [Elliot’s representatives] offered affidavits and declined to be interviewed by investigators, which raised suspicions,” Harvey said. Harvey added that the arguments Elliott’s representatives made “seemed to be theoretical” and not substantiated by evidence.
“Mr. Elliot’s representatives argued in a meeting that maybe Ms. Thompson fell down stairs,” Harvey said. “There was no witness to say she fell down stairs and there was no photograph of her falling down stairs.” The representatives also proposed that Thompson could have injured herself bumping into tables while on the job as a restaurant server or could have gotten into a fight with another woman, Harvey said.
The NFL investigators, however, were not buying that. The “evidence does not support finding mitigating or aggravating factors,” it wrote to Elliott.
The league also told Elliott that it won’t be considering the St. Patrick’s Day incident for additional discipline but called it “inappropriate and disturbing.” According to reports, the league did not consider Elliott’s alleged participation in a July altercation at a Dallas nightclub during which a D.J.’s nose was broken. Dallas police eventually suspended the investigation after they were unable to locate the victim.
Considering the alleged mood of Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who has issued public statements of support for his running back, an appeal seems likely.
Cowboys' owner Jerry Jones is said to be furious with NFL decision, per one source. Furious.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 11, 2017
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