Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott has officially submitted paperwork to the NFL, appealing a six-game suspension for violating the league’s personal conduct policy, the NFL Players Association said Tuesday.
“Our union has appealed the NFL’s six-game suspension of Ezekiel Elliott,” the NFLPA announced in a statement. “We will represent Ezekiel, as we do all players, to ensure that the NFL is held to its obligation of adhering to principles of industrial due process under the Collective Bargaining Agreement.”
The appeal is scheduled to be heard on Aug. 29, two days before the preseason finale against the Houston Texans.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who made the final decision on the suspension, will not hear the appeal and instead will appoint a designated arbitrator.
If the suspension isn’t eliminated or reduced to Elliott’s satisfaction, he could take his fight to federal court.
But a source said it’s too early to say whether he will make that move.
Elliott continues to deny he committed domestic violence against former girlfriend Tiffany Thompson in a case that began with an alleged assault. The Columbus, Ohio, city prosecutor declined to pursue charges against Elliott because of “conflicting and inconsistent information.”
However, following an extensive yearlong investigation, the NFL announced Elliott’s suspension Friday, saying it has photo and digital evidence supporting a finding “that [Elliott] engaged in physical violence against Ms. Thompson on multiple occasions.”
The players union had to submit the paperwork within three business days for Elliott to reserve the right to appeal.
Elliott’s team likely will attack Thompson’s credibility, including possible misleading testimony to NFL lead investigator Lisa Friel and repeated threats to “ruin his career” according to documents.
Per the NFL Network, the league’s own website, Elliott filed a harassment claim against Thompson with the Frisco police last September. Elliott claimed that he received “50-plus” phone calls from Thompson in a span of less than seven hours, including multiple calls from a blocked number.
His representatives will also point to “cherry picked information,” “factual inaccuracies” and “erroneous conclusions” by the NFL.
Elliott’s suspension is scheduled to begin on Sept. 2, the day of final roster reductions. Until then he can continue to practice and play in preseason games.
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett has not decided if Elliott will play in the preseason, but if he does it would likely be in the third game as he did last year.
The third preseason game is Saturday at AT&T Stadium against the Indianapolis Colts, but the Cowboys are treating it like the second one because no starters played in the Hall of Fame Game to kick off the preseason.
So it’s more likely he’ll play in the next game, Aug. 26 at home against the Oakland Raiders.