It may come Friday, it could be bumped into next week. Regardless of the timing, the prevailing view in league circles is that Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott will be suspended under the Personal Conduct Policy.
One league source characterized an Elliott suspension as “definite.” The specific duration of the suspension isn’t known, however.
The Cowboys open the regular season with games against the Giants, Broncos, Cardinals, Rams, and Packers.
Earlier this week, Cris Carter said on FS1 that a suspension is coming, and that the suspension will be accompanied by evidence of domestic violence, and possibly by proof that Elliott destroyed evidence in connection with the investigation. Carter suggested that the punishment will be in the range of the four-game suspension imposed on Patriots quarterback Tom Brady in 2015.
Elliott is accused of five incidents of domestic violence over a six-day period in July 2016. Last Thursday night, appearing in the NBC booth during the Hall of Fame game, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones suggested that a suspension could be imposed for unspecified incidents other than the domestic violence claim.
In March, Elliott was videotaped pulling a woman’s top down at a St. Patrick’s Day parade. More recently, he allegedly broke a DJ’s nose at a club in Dallas.
Jones consistently has claimed that he has seen no evidence of domestic violence. Two weeks ago, he described a decision on Elliott’s status as “imminent.”
Friday traditionally represents a day on which organizations dump bad news into the public eye, believing that it will get less attention during the weekend than early in a work week. That theory may not apply as strongly during the first full weekend of the NFL preseason, given that games will be broadcast on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday — including a nationally-televised rematch of last year’s memorable (for a preseason game) Cowboys-Rams game at the L.A. Coliseum on Saturday night.
With a growing expectation that a decision is coming Friday, the league easily could decide to hold the announcement until early next week. Either way, at this point the only lingering mystery is the number of games Elliott will miss, and whether his inevitable internal appeal will have a chance of prevailing.
There’s also a possibility that Elliott will challenge the suspension in court, seeking a temporary injunction that would block the suspension until the litigation is resolved. While such lawsuits rarely succeed, Elliott could be able to cobble together enough of a case to persuade a judge to let him play while the court system considers the merits of his claims.