A six-game suspension for Dallas Cowboys star running back Ezekiel Elliott after a year-long investigation was a headliner for NFL news this week. A domestic violence report on Elliott that surfaced last season was carefully studied before the league announced its judgement late last week. Despite the absence of substantial evidence or legal charges, Elliott was suspended for nearly a third of the season based off the NFL’s own policies against domestic violence. Was it fair? Perry Green and Stephen D. Riley of the AFRO Sports Desk debates. 

Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott looks on from the sidelines during the second half of a preseason NFL football game against the Los Angeles Rams Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Green: Don’t tell any fans of the Dallas Cowboys but the suspension is fair. Elliott probably should’ve been suspended last year but the NFL held tight. Since the allegations came out early last year, Elliott has found his way into numerous other controversial situations, setting himself up for harsh judgement and perhaps the NFL being even stronger with their ruling. A St. Patrick’s Day party that saw Elliott expose a woman’s breast and a bar brawl were incidents that transpired after the alleged domestic violence report. Elliott was bound to be punished but it just came on a little bit stronger than expected. However, it was well deserved. We have to take all domestic violence  allegations seriously. It’s an intolerable offense and I respect the league for now deciding to hand out harsher consequences to anyone found even remotely guilty of such actions.

Riley:  Elliott’s accuser, a former girlfriend, recanted her statement recently and told reporters that Elliott never abused her. The lack of legal charges and misleading stories suggest that maybe things might have been overblown, contrary to how they were initially reported. Elliott surely isn’t an angel, but handing him six games over a report that hasn’t been officially proven is harsh. The Cowboys sophomore running back is expected to appeal, but the NFL shouldn’t be trying to make him a scapegoat after they mishandled the Ray Rice situation a few years ago.

Green: The NFL may have taken into account the Ray Rice story when they made this new ruling on Elliot. Remember they initially gave Rice a weak punishment, then video footage surfaced of Rice’s actual incident and they were blasted for it. Now they’re coming down hard from the start. 

Elliot’s own string of poor decisions and questionable behavior all helped to seal his fate. Exposing women’s breasts in public, having your name mentioned in a domestic violence case and visiting marijuana dispensaries before games proved he needed to be reprimanded, and if the team wasn’t going to step in then it’s a good thing the NFL did. Elliott’s rookie year was a doozy mixed with success on the field and controversy off of it. If the NFL didn’t step in to save Elliott from himself it’s clear that Jerry Jones and the Cowboys weren’t going to. Fans and supporters might be mad at the league but the real blame falls on Elliott. 

Riley: If everything that Elliott has done up to this point was so bad then he would’ve been criminally charged and punished already but he hasn’t. The domestic abuse allegation was carefully reviewed but the incidents that took place afterwards were more hype than substance. Elliott should appeal and will probably win to cut his suspension down to fewer lost games but he shouldn’t have to start there in the first place. Players get handed lesser games for first time drug offenses and for this to be Elliott’s first suspension, it’s a hefty price to pay for a case that hasn’t been proven. The Ray Rice incident and the star on Elliot’s helmet, perhaps, have more to do with his suspension than the alleged domestic abuse.

Perry Green and Stephen D. Riley

AFRO Sports Desk