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Elliott: Disappointed by NFL's suspension ruling

From ESPN - August 11, 2017

Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott said Friday evening that he is disappointed by the NFL's decision to suspend him six games for violating the personal conduct policy, and he apologized for the off-field distraction his saga has become.

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Ezekiel Elliott (@EzekielElliott) August 12, 2017

The suspension comes as a result of an investigation that started more than a year ago after an ex-girlfriend accused Elliott of domestic violence in Columbus, Ohio. The Columbus City Attorney's office announced in September that it would not pursue charges against Elliott because of "conflicting and inconsistent information," but the NFL can penalize a player even without legal charges.

The Cowboys have yet to officially address the suspension, which was issued Friday. Owner and general manager Jerry Jones has defended Elliott throughout the NFL's investigation, and a source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter that Jones is furious with the NFL's decision.

A Cowboys source told ESPN's Josina Anderson that the team is standing behind Elliott.

Elliott is planning to appeal the suspension, his representatives said in a statement.

"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," Frank Salzano and Scott Rosenblum said in the statement.

Elliott has three business days to file notice of his appeal, and a hearing must be scheduled within 10 days of receipt of the notice, according to Article 46 of the collective bargaining agreement, which governs appeal of commissioner discipline.

Commissioner Roger Goodell or his designee, usually former NFL executive Harold Henderson, would hear the appeal, which would be scheduled for the second Tuesday after the receipt of the appeal. Any ruling by Goodell or his designee would be binding.

Without an appeal, Elliott's suspension would begin Sept. 2. He would be eligible to return to the active roster Oct. 23, the day after the Cowboys' Week 7 game against the San Francisco 49ers. His first possible game would be Week 8 at the Washington Redskins.

During the suspension, Elliott would not be allowed into the Cowboys' training complex from the first week of the regular season until the suspension is complete.

The NFL Players Association said in a statement that it is reviewing the league's decision and has been in contact with Elliott and his representatives to consider their options.

An NFL official told ESPN that the decision on punishment for Elliott took time to make in part because the NFLPA delayed delivering requested information from mid-December to mid-May.

For his part, NFLPA president Eric Winston expressed frustration with the disciplinary process Friday night, saying, "There's just a lack of a protocol, there's a lack of a coherent process, there's a lack of anything, there's a lack of player buy-in, because [the league has] chosen to go at it alone."

Legal authorities concluded that they could not prove Elliott's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Several witnesses, according to sources close to the case, had heard the woman yell at Elliott that she would "ruin his career" when she was unhappy that they would not continue their relationship.

NFL officials said in a statement that the league investigated Elliott's case thoroughly and determined that he violated the personal conduct policy. The league examined text messages, interviewed more than a dozen witnesses -- including the accuser and Elliott -- and retained medical and legal experts to help Goodell make his decision.

In a letter to Elliott advising him of the league's decision, the NFL said the experts "were of the view that there is substantial and persuasive evidence supporting a finding that [Elliott] engaged in physical violence" multiple times in July 2016.

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