The bad news Dallas Cowboys fans were waiting for became a reality on Friday after the league announced that star running back Ezekiel Elliott would be suspended for the first six games of the 2017 NFL season due to domestic violence.
Elliott was never charged over the 2016 incident, but a panel of advisers recruited by the NFL during its year-long investigation found him in breach of the league's Personal Conduct Policy. Any ruling would be considered binding.
The Dallas Cowboys have a bye in Week 6, meaning Elliott won't be eligible to return to the field until Week 8 if the six-game suspension stands after his appeal.
Elliott is set to begin his second season with the Cowboys, after rushing for 1,631 yards and 15 touchdowns en route to earning first-team All-Pro honours in 2016.
The NFL's letter detailed Elliott's alleged domestic violence toward Thompson, including three examples of photographic evidence showing the use of "physical force".
Back in July, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said there was no evidence of a domestic violence incident.
Should the six-game suspension hold up, Elliott's first game back will be October 29 against the Washington Redskins.
The league said there was "substantial and persuasive evidence" that Elliott had physical confrontations last summer with his then-girlfriend, Tiffany Thompson. If Elliott doesn't appeal, although the more than likely will, he will miss games against the Giants, Broncos, Cardinals, Rams, Packers, and 49ers.
Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott runs a drill during NFL football training camp in Oxnard, Calif., Tuesday, July 25, 2017. In March, he was videotaped exposing a woman's breast during a St. Patrick's Day parade.