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Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott faces a six-game suspension from the NFL for allegations of domestic abuse.

Associated Press — Jae C. Hong

Once again, the Dallas Cowboys are in the news. And again, it’s nothing positive.

It’s nothing new, but this time it hits the Cowboys hard. Ezekiel Elliott, pending an appeal from his team of lawyers, will miss the first six games of the 2017 season due to ongoing (and seemingly never-ending) domestic violence allegations levied by ex-girlfriend Tiffany Thompson.

Though Elliott was not charged, the NFL conducted a thorough investigation into several alleged incidents between the star running back and Thompson while he attended Ohio State University. Of course, as is the case in the majority of domestic violence issues, both sides swear up and down that the other person is lying.

Elliott has recently made public texts in which Thompson told him: “You better be smart. And not be a dumb man.” Thompson was also heard screaming, at the party where the alleged situation took place, “Your career is over!” There are dozens of examples where Elliott and his friends proclaimed his innocence in the matter. Frankly, at this point, will anyone ever really know?

All of that doesn’t matter. What matters is that the NFL, like the hammer of Thor, brought down a punishment on Elliott that sees him missing nearly half the season. Six crucial games for Elliott and his teammates, following a 13-3 regular-season last year that ended with a loss to the Green Bay Packers in the playoffs. And the loss of millions of dollars.

Do you blame the NFL? Yes, charges were dropped by law enforcement. Sure, Thompson’s description of the events have changed more times than we can count. The entire thing is a mess.

To make matters worse for Elliott and easier for the NFL, he hasn’t exactly kept quiet the past few months. Elliott has been accused of groping a woman at a St. Patrick’s Day parade and was identified by several witnesses as the driving force behind a bludgeoned nose of a a DJ coined “D-Train” in July. Though the NFL has concluded the investigation of the alleged bar fight, Elliott’s recent transgressions have bounced around the web like a beach ball at a Nickelback concert.

Broken laws or not, the NFL can punish their players in any way they please. Sure, Ray Rice received fewer games after he was captured on tape beating his wife in an elevator. But the NFL also suspended Tom Brady for four games last season for allegedly letting the air out of some footballs. Gasp — the horror!

Most recently, and probably most disturbingly, the league levied a one-game suspension for Giants kicker Josh Brown after he admitted to continual abuse of his wife for several years.

Make no argument — the NFL is in a tight spot. The league was burned after the Rice blunder, which resulted in a backlash from the media and public. Made out as the enemy more times than not, the league deals with these situations far too much.

On the other hand, what would you do if you’re Ezekiel Elliott?

If I am indeed innocent of these crimes, I am fighting until the end of my days to rid my name of these heinous assertions. Unfortunately for Elliott, faultless or not, the NFL has slapped a label on the 22-year-old so big and bright, it very well could be impossible to wash off.

If I’m Elliott, I’m wanting the NFL to pay me. I’m wanting admitted falsification of my name, not just through a letter, but on TV for everyone to hear.

He will indeed fight if he believes he is innocent. If I know something legit went down and I am guilty of even just a smidgen of wrongdoing, I would more than likely make a deal with the NFL to reduce my sentence, do some community outreach and hope to rebuild my name through good deeds and apologetic statements for years to come.

The fact of the matter is, only two people know if he is guilty or not. Public perception is all that matters, and the NFL knows this. Including myself, no matter which side you are on, you have probably overreacted on your feelings about this case.

It was not a popular decision for the NFL to make. The most common excuse for Elliott’s behavior has been to note that he’s a young, naive millionaire. I mean, come on. You know who else are young millionaires? The majority of the National Football League. That doesn’t preclude you from acting like a grown-up.

Does the punishment fit the crime? Who knows. It’s a case of the NFL handing down a sentence it deems fit for what occurred several years back. But make no mistake, the NFL wasn’t letting this one go.

Unless you’re a kicker for the Giants and have written a book detailing the extensive mental and physical abuse of your wife. Then you get a one-game vacation.

That, my friends, is a slap on the wrist.

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