NFL Rules on the Ezekiel Elliot Case

Written by Ryan Forbes

The Cowboys star running back, Ezekiel Elliot, has been issued the NFL standard six game suspension for violating the League’s personal conduct policy after accusations arose of domestic violence against former girlfriend Tiffany Thompson. Elliot was still suspended despite the case being dismissed by an Ohio court for lack of evidence. Many fans are wondering why Elliot was suspended if a United States court could not prove him guilty.

This policy hearkens back to the domestic abuse case against Ray Rice in 2014 which redefined the League’s conduct policy. The policy was created after video surfaced of Ray Rice punching his fiancé in a casino elevator and dragging her unconscious body onto the elevator. Rice was initially suspended two games, but after video of the assault was released, the NFL came back and suspended Rice indefinitely.  Rice was later cut by the Ravens and hasn’t played since. NFL officials admitted that they could have handled the situation better, and soon released a new NFL conduct policy. The new policy states that first time assault offenders will be suspended a minimum of six games and warned that the NFL’s future suspension decisions would be harsher than the previous policy allowed.

Under the new conduct policy, the NFL now conducts its own investigation, and they first focus on trying to prove the player innocent. If the evidence in Elliot’s case can’t completely prove his innocence, then the NFL punishes him with a suspension. This protocol gives NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell the power to play judge, jury, and executioner when deciding on cases such as Ezekiel Elliot’s.

During the first half of the season, Elliot was free to play after a Texas court blocked the NFL’s suspension on the grounds that Elliot never received a fair trial. This played out in court for half the season, which allowed the Cowboys to continue to start their star running-back.

The NFL will continue to pursue Elliot’s suspension, but Cowboys owner Jerry Jones will be very persistent in proving his running back’s innocence and having him cleared of all suspensions. A U.S. district judge denied the NFL’s request to have an emergency trial as early as September 19; however, on October 12, the panel of judges ruled against the Texas court’s previous ruling and allowed the NFL to suspend Elliot. Elliot then requested a restraining order on the suspension until judge Katherine Failla returned from her vacation on October 30. After the Judge returned, she ruled in favor of the NFL’s six game suspension against Elliot.