The NFL has suspended Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliot without pay for the first six games of the 2017 regular season for violating the league's personal conduct policy.
After a year-long investigation, the NFL said in a statement that four external advisors found that Elliot "engaged in physical violence" against a woman on several occasions in 2016.
"League investigators interviewed more than a dozen witnesses, including Ms. Tiffany Thompson, who had alleged multiple instances of physical violence in July 2016, and Mr. Elliott. The league also consulted with medical experts," the statement said.
Investigators reviewed photographic and digital evidence in addition to text messages and other records of electronic communications, the statement said.
ESPN's Adam Schefter first reported the suspension. Elliott, 22, is now the third Cowboys player to start the season under suspension, Schefter writes.
In June, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was advised by four independent advisers who reviewed the league's investigative evidence in the case. They eventually found that Elliot had violated the league's conduct policy.
In a letter to Elliott announcing the decision, Todd Jones, the NFL's Special Counsel for Conduct, said the advisers decided "there is substantial and persuasive evidence supporting a finding that [Elliott] engaged in physical violence against Ms. Thompson on multiple occasions during the week of July 16, 2016."
The 22-year-old Elliot has three days to appeal the decision or the suspension will begin September 2. His legal team has promised to fight the ruling.
"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," attorneys Frank Salzano and Scott Rosenblum said in a statement to Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network. "During the upcoming weeks and through the appeal, a slew of additional credible and controverting evidence will come to light."
The NFL Players Association said in a statement Friday that they are "reviewing the decision and have been in touch with Ezekiel and his representatives to consider all options."