According to multiple reports from Cowboys beat reporters, national outlets and NFL.com, Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott turned over phone records to NFL investigators last week as the league continues to investigate several allegations of domestic violence against Elliott.
The news, first reported by USA Today's Tom Pelissero, indicates that the league's investigation, which has been going for almost a year, could be nearing its conclusion.
In turning over the documents, Elliott and the NFL Players Association fulfilled a longstanding request from the league, providing hope that Elliott's status could be cleared up before the Cowboys' season opener Sept. 10. Elliott's phone records could be key evidence in the NFL probe, which began last July.
Early in the morning of July 22, 2016, Tiffany Thompson, who says she is Elliott's ex-girlfriend, filed two reports with Columbus, Ohio, police. In those reports, Thompson says Elliott attacked her multiple times over a two-week period, leaving bruises on her arms and hurting her wrist. Elliott told police at the time that Thompson picked up the bruises in a bar fight and that the second alleged assault, in a car, never took place.
Several witnesses at the scene of the second incident, including one who said she was sitting in the car, told police that no assault took place.
Police did not arrest Elliott, citing the conflicting stories and confusion regarding whether Thompson and Elliott had lived together. Thompson said she'd lived with Elliott for three months of the previous year. Elliott denied having lived with Thompson. Police referred the case to the Columbus City Attorney's Office, which announced in September that it would not prosecute the former Ohio State star.
"After reviewing the totality of the evidence, the City Attorney's Office, Prosecutor Division is declining to approve criminal charges in this matter for any of the 5 alleged incidents," the office said in a press release. "This is primarily due to conflicting and inconsistent information across all incidents resulting in concern regarding the sufficiency of the evidence to support the filing of criminal charges."
After Thompson filed her police reports, anonymous sources within the Cowboys organization told the team's press corps that Elliott had messages on his cellphone proving that Thompson was setting him up because she felt jilted. A statement from Elliott's father, Stacy Elliott, alluded to those claims.
"The actual evidence in this matter clearly indicates what the real motivation was behind the police being called," he said in a statement put out by the Cowboys. "We are confident that when the truth comes to light it will reveal the falsity of these claims."
When the Columbus City Attorney's Office declined to prosecute Elliott, it released all of the evidence gathered in the case. Copies of text messages sent between Thompson and Ayrin Nelson, a witnesses in the case, showed that Thompson encouraged Nelson to lie. Nelson also told police that Thompson screamed at Elliott that she would "ruin his life" the night before filing the police report. Several witnesses also backed up Elliott's claims about Thompson's involvement in a bar fight.
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Despite the closing of the criminal investigation in Ohio, the NFL has shown little in the way of wanting to complete its investigation.
"Well, the best way to be fair to a player is to be thorough and to take your time and get it right. So, that is what we're working on. We have professionals that are working on this," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said at a press conference after an NFL owners meeting in December at Las Colinas' Four Seasons Resort. "We're not putting a timetable on it. We want to make sure they get it right, they get all the facts. And when they reach to a conclusion, we'll all know about it."
In the six months since Goodell made that statement, Elliott has made it clear that he wants the investigation to be over.
"I do want closure," Elliott told reporters after the Cowboys' season-ending loss to the Packers in January. "I would rather them not drag on as long. I think if there was something to find, which there's not, they would've found it by now. The police did a very thorough investigation. I will tell you this: It just seems like they're dragging their feet right now. Who knows, man? I just want it to end."