Ezekiel Elliott Suspended 6 Games

By Darreck Kirby
Project Shanks Creative Director

After more than a year of investigating, the NFL finally issued a ruling on the Ezekiel Elliott domestic violence allegations from July of 2016. The sentence? Six games for something Elliott was never charged for, never even arrested for. Throughout the past twelve months, the waters of this case have been more than a little muddied, even at one point seeing text messages between Elliott’s ex and some of her friends suggesting she asked them to lie for her and corroborate her story. In the end, the Columbus  District Police determined there wasn’t enough evidence to move forward with charges. A short time later, claims arose again about an incident in Florida where supposedly Elliott had gotten physical with his ex in a car with other people. Once again, however, witnesses declined to corroborate the woman’s story. Florida police would also decline to charge Elliott with anything.

Since that time, Elliott hasn’t exactly done himself any favors, allegedly punching a DJ and breaking his nose at a Dallas night club after the man disrespected a woman in Elliott’s group. Whether or not that’s true, there’s certainly plenty of reason to believe it could have been the Cowboys star. Why is this particular incident important if it supposedly didn’t factor into the NFL’s decision? Well, it occurred during a week when the NFL was reportedly ready to come forth with its findings and make a ruling. Instead, the league suddenly held off for another two or three weeks until after Cowboys owner, Jerry Jones, was inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Here are my two cents on the matter. Whether or not you think the NFL should have gone above and beyond the US justice system to issue punishment to one of its players, it’s important to note that they are well within their rights to do it. Elliott is one of their employees and their code of conduct policy matters. If this ruling is the start of a new era where the league takes such incidents seriously, great. The problem lies with its history of handling such instances.

Former Giants punter, Josh Brown admitted to twenty separate incidents of domestic violence against his wife and was hit with a measly one game suspension. Josh Huff, meanwhile, while not tied to domestic violence, was arrested for pot, speeding, and guns last season and has yet to see a suspension of any sort. Remember Pacman Jones? He was arrested for spitting on a woman at a club and then cussing out an off-duty police officer. He’s facing a one game suspension. While it might sound like less than what Zeke is being charged with, don’t forget, what Zeke is facing is accusations and what Roger Goodell and his four experts believe happened.

According to Peter Harvey, “[ the NFL Commissioner] made a decision here that was his own.” Does that mean Goodell’s advisors were still on the fence? If so, couldn’t this crackdown just be an overcorrection to combat the image of the league regarding domestic violence? It very well could be, and if it is, it’s a dangerous, slippery slope to go down. At its root, these are accusations with what two different police departments separated by hundreds of miles felt lacked enough merit to even arrest Elliott.

On the Cowboys side, Jerry Jones is reportedly furious over the suspension, having declared just days prior that “I… reviewed everything and there is absolutely nothing -not one thing- that had anything to do with domestic violence.” So did the NFL know something Jerry didn’t? Well, according to the NFL’s statement, they felt there was enough evidence and enough reason to believe Elliott had not only been physical with his ex-girlfriend but had done so on multiple occasions. Are their findings concrete? No. There is no smoking gun in sight. As a result, we’ve seen the following statement come out of the Elliott camp through his lawyers and representatives.

“We just learned of the NFL’s decision to suspend Mr. Elliott for six games for allegedly engaging in ‘physical force’ against the accuser. Mr. Elliott and his team of representatives are extremely disappointed with the NFL’s decision.

“Our offices have been engaged in this matter since last July and have worked hand in hand with the Columbus Prosecutor’s office as well as the NFL with their respective investigations. Accordingly, we are fully aware of the full body of evidence that exists in connection with this matter.

“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.

“For example, both the Columbus Prosecutor’s office as well as the NFL investigators expressly concluded and conveyed to our office (and others) that the accuser was lying about an alleged July 22, 2016 incident whereby she accused Mr. Elliott of pulling her out of her car and assaulting her. An allegation that was ultimately undermined by her own friend’s affidavit which stated that no such assault occurred. The affidavit also outlined the accuser’s plan to orchestrate a story to police to in order to corroborate her false allegation of assault. In addition, the NFL’s own medical experts concluded that many of her injuries predated the week in question and likely occurred during a period of time when Mr. Elliott was not in contact with the accuser. During the upcoming weeks and through the appeal a slew of additional credible and controverting evidence will come to light.”

Those are certainly strong words, but then what would you expect Elliott’s people to say? The star running back is planning to appeal the decision and higher ups within the Cowboys organization are reportedly so shocked and angered by the decision that they’ve said the team is ready and willing to challenge this to the furthest extent possible. Could we be seeing another lawsuit against the NFL, a la Tom Brady during the Deflategate controversy? It certainly seems that way…

But while having Elliott on the field makes Dallas infinitely more dangerous and does wonders to improve their chances of contending for a Super Bowl this year, one has to wonder if this is the kind of wake up call Ezekiel Elliott needs.


If you’d like to read more by Darreck Kirby, you can find his work here, and stay tuned to ProjectShanks.com.

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