As the NFL's investigation into whether Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott violated its personal conduct policy nears the one-year mark, there are continued indications a resolution could finally be near — even if it's not the one the Cowboys want.
Elliott has received a report from the NFL on its findings, ESPN reported Friday, and Elliott's camp is preparing a response, expected to be submitted in the next week. Elliott could be facing a one- or two-game suspension, according to the report. But the league denied a decision has been made.
The Cowboys open the season Sept. 10 against the NFC East rival the New York Giants and they play at the Denver Broncos the following week.
An NFL spokesman told SportsDay this week that no decisions have been reached. Elliott's representatives could not immediately be reached Friday.
Elliott is not facing criminal charges for assault, but the NFL can suspend a player even without legal charges being filed. The investigation has been ongoing since an Ohio woman accused Elliott of assault over multiple days last July in Columbus, Ohio. It was later revealed that the same woman also called police and accused the former Ohio State star of assault in February 2016 in Florida, where Elliott was preparing for the NFL draft.
The baseline NFL suspension for domestic violence is six games, though Commissioner Roger Goodell has leeway. Elliott has denied wrongdoing and he and his representatives have been calling for closure to the investigation since October.
It's been more than a month since Elliott's camp and the NFL Players Association handed over phone records and other documents to the NFL, according to sources, which signaled that a decision could be reached soon.
The Cowboys depart for training camp in Oxnard, Calif., on July 22, Elliott's 22nd birthday and nearly a year to the day that the allegations against Elliott became public after his 21st birthday party.
Players have the right to appeal a disciplinary decision within three days of being informed.
The Cowboys and owner Jerry Jones have publicly backed Elliott from the beginning.
Elliott starred on the field as he won the NFL rushing crown as a rookie. But he has drawn scrutiny over the last year for off-field decisions that included visiting a marijuana dispensary in Seattle before a preseason game and pulling down the top of a woman during Dallas' St. Patrick's Day block party on Lower Greenville, an incident that was caught on video.
While Elliott's off-field behavior came under scrutiny, so did the NFL's investigative process because of how long it's taking to reach a conclusion.
Goodell has maintained that being thorough provides fairness to the athlete. After the Cowboys' playoff loss in January, Elliott told SportsDay that he wanted closure.
The Cowboys were criticized for signing defensive end Gregy Hardy in 2015 amid accusations of abuse, and photos of the alleged victim were eventually made public during that season. The NFL is under scrutiny for its handling of domestic assault cases, in particular since detailed allegations against New York Giants kicker Josh Brown emerged after the league suspended him one game.