Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott has been suspended by the NFL for the first six games of the 2017 season after deeming him to have violated its "Personal Conduct Policy".
The suspension means he will miss games against the New York Giants, Denver Broncos, Arizona Cardinals, Los Angeles Rams, Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers. Including the team's bye week in October, he would be eligible to return for the Washington Redskins game later that month.
According to league rules, Elliott has three business days to file notice of appeal, and a hearing must be scheduled within 10 days of receipt of the notice, according to Article 46 of the collective bargaining agreement, which governs appeal of commissioner discipline.
An appeal would be heard by the commissioner or his designee, typically former NFL executive Harold Henderson.
The league's year-long investigation began following allegations against Elliott by a former girlfriend over a July 2016 incident.
Elliott was never charged over an alleged assault, but that is not the only issue Elliott has had off the field.
He was cited in April for speeding after being clocked going 100 miles per hour in a 70mph zone, he was filmed appearing to expose a woman's breast during a St Patrick's Day parade and more recently was accused of punching a nightclub DJ in Dallas, though police suspended that investigation because the accuser was not cooperative.
"The domestic violence is not an issue. Zeke has had some other things that have been looked at and are being looked at. But from the domestic violence issue, there's not an issue," Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones said last week, while holding out hope that Elliott might avoid a suspension.
Instead, it appears the Cowboys will turn to a largely uninspiring group of back-ups - Darren McFadden, Rod Smith and Alfred Morris - for the start of a season it enters with high expectations. McFadden and Morris ran for 330 yards in 2016, while Smith, a third-year pro, has two carries in his career.
Meanwhile, Elliott is coming off a rookie year in which he ran for 1,631 yards on 322 carries with 15 touchdowns and only one fumble lost. He finished second in NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year voting to team-mate and Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott.
The fact the news of Elliott's suspension comes this close to the team's regular-season opener on September 10 against the Giants has been part of the Cowboys' issue.
"These things are tough for everybody. It's tough for the league. It's tough for the team. It's tough for the player," team executive vice-president Stephen Jones earlier this week. "I think, at some point, you should be able to get the information in some sort of timeframe that it doesn't carry on like this particular investigation has."
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