Cowboys' Ezekiel Elliott suspended six games

Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott walks on the field prior to the Pro Football Hall of Fame NFL preseason game in Canton Ohio Thursday Aug. 3 2017

However, if the appeal carries over into the regular season, Elliott will be eligible to play until a final decision is made.

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.

It is already anticipated that Elliott will appeal the decision, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter, and he has the next three days to do so.

If the six-game ban stands, the 22-year-old halfback will be ruled out until the Cowboys' visit to divisional rivals Washington on 29 October.

That leaves Rod Smith at tailback and Keith Smith, who primarily works at fullback, to handle significant snaps in practice and receive the bulk of the load in those early preseason games. Given how slowly the wheels of justice move in the NFL-Elliott's investigation began last summer-this saga could drag on for quite some time.

Elliott was accused of hitting his ex-girlfriend while the two were in a auto together. In September, the Columbus City Attorney's Office announced it would not pursue charges against Elliott due to "conflicting and inconsistent information". Elliott's case has been under review for almost 13 months.

In July 2016, Thompson told police that Elliott assaulted her five times in one week.

While none of those incidents will result in direct discipline from the National Football League, they have said they were looking at the "accumulative nature" of these incidents. 158 of those yards came against the New York Giants.

The NFL has a lower burden of proof, so players can be found in violation of its personal conduct policy even without an arrest or conviction.

Elliot will apparently serve a suspension for a domestic violence dispute that arose and still needs legal clarification.

He was also involved in a bar fight in Dallas a week before training camp.

Then, in March, Elliott was filmed pulling down a woman's shirt, exposing one of her breasts, while watching a St. Patrick's Day parade in Dallas.