Ezekiel Elliott won the FedEx Air & Ground Player of the Year last season. This was because he rushed for over 1,600 yards with 15 touchdowns. The Dallas Cowboys running back was also in the running for Rookie of the Year but got beat out by his own quarterback, Dak Prescott. That wouldn’t be the only ‘L’ he would take in 2017.

The NFL has chosen to suspend Elliott six games under the personal conduct policy. “Conduct detrimental to the shield” is what the league uses to suspend players who may or may not be found guilty by law. He was suspended from a year-long investigation into allegations that he reportedly injured his former girlfriend, Tiffany Thompson. These incidents took place in July of 2016 on allegedly three different occasions. The NFL made a statement that they believe he used “physical force” during a span of five days in a Columbus, Ohio apartment. Those incidents led to Thompson’s face, neck, arms, hands, wrists, hips, knees, and shoulder being injured. She said, “He has lost control and yanked me into the wall, busted the side of my jaw. My face was swollen and a little bit bruised. And then I did have thumbprint marks on my hand.” Thompson also said she questioned why Elliott’s phone kept ringing, with other women calling. Elliott response, according to her was that he “dragged me out of the bed and then he threw me up against the door in his bedroom. Then he placed his right hand around my neck and started choking me.” She said the choking lasted about 20 or 30 seconds. No charges were filed because the prosecutors didn’t pursue a conviction. The Columbus city attorney, Robert Tobias, said, “I personally believe that there were a series of interactions between Mr. Elliott and [his accuser] where violence occurred. However, given the totality of the circumstances, I could not firmly conclude exactly what happened.”

What we do know is that Thompson was upset from being banned from coming to Elliott’s 21st birthday party in July. She texted him saying, “That’s worst decision you made in your life. I’m going to ruin your life now.” Thompson allegedly sent text messages asking her friends to lie about him assaulting her on July 22. Elliott told police that he is “100 percent certain” on July 22, Thompson said, “You are a black male athlete. I’m a white girl. They are not going to believe you.” Those are jaw dropping words from “Becky with…” never mind. Something interesting was revealed after the alleged domestic violence were initially charged. Elliott filed a police report in September in Texas against Thompson. He told police that she called him “more than 50 times in less than eight hours. He said he told her not to contact him due to the ongoing investigation at the time. Reportedly, that didn’t stop her from calling from a block number. He claims that she “hacked into his email” and called numbers she found and contacted them to talk about “untruthful things that can hurt his image.”

Based on both sides alleged accounts and text messages, this is a classic “he said, she said” that they didn’t have enough concrete evidence to get a conviction sad to say. In addition, he was the stand out athlete at “THE Ohio State University” and the Cowboys. It was unlikely he would have gotten convicted without solid evidence and proof. However, his track record can’t be ignored. Elliott was seen in a legal marijuana shop during the preseason in Seattle last year. He was involved in a bar fight in Dallas a week before training camp this year. He was caught on video pulling down a woman’s shirt while watching a St. Patrick’s Day parade in Dallas. All of these began to add up. That’s why the league cited Elliott’s “inappropriate and disturbing” behavior as reason for the suspension being the length that it was. Elliott has chosen to appeal his suspension. He has every right to do so, and he should. A three game suspension should be fair. He wasn’t convicted of anything but it just looks bad. He can’t keep putting himself in situations that make him a target. On the other hand, he can’t be in situations that cause him to react in a manner that will get him in trouble.

The 22-year-old Elliott has a base salary of $1.58 million for this upcoming 2017 NFL season. Since he will be suspended without pay, he will forfeit $559,192 in base salary. Not to mention, since he has already received $16.35 million in total signing bonus, he will have to repay the Cowboys roughly $240,000 per game missed. If he misses six games, he’ll owe the team $1.44 million. The suspension voids the guarantees on Elliott’s four-year, $24.9 million contract. That translates to $8.15M in guarantees being void. That is a lot of money, gone! If the thought of not going to jail isn’t enough to wake you up, losing that much money should. That’s just his salary. We haven’t gotten into the endorsement and sponsorship money he loses out on. I hope he gets it together and quickly. I would say, I hope other players see this as an example. That’s just wishful thinking though. They all think it won’t happen to them. They all think they have it under control, until they don’t. Wake up young athletes! Stop being stuck on stupid and learn from your peers and predecessors. Stop becoming another statistic of ignorance.

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