During a three-day disciplinary appeal hearing last week, Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott testified under oath to using drugs while he attended Ohio State and admitted that he still likes to party.
The revelation came from hundreds of pages of transcripts from the hearing and documents that included the investigative report the NFL conducted into Elliott’s case that were obtained by USA TODAY Sports. The hearing was part of Elliott’s appeal of the six-game suspension the NFL levied against him Aug. 11 for a violation of the personal conduct policy that stemmed from multiple allegations of domestic violence against a woman, who claimed to be his girlfriend, in July of 2016.
Elliott was never arrested nor charged for the incident.
USA TODAY Sports does not identify alleged victims of domestic violence.
Elliott’s admission of drug use took place when lead counsel for the NFL Management Council, Daniel Nash, cross-examined him about his relationship with the accuser.
Nash: Okay. And you — I think you said that the relationship began in January of 2015?
Nash: And it became sexual a week after you met her?
Nash: And I think you said that you liked her because she liked to party, drink and do drugs?
Nash: You liked to do that, too?
Elliott: I do like to party.
Nash: And like to get drunk?
Nash: You like to do drugs?
Elliott: I did in college.
During that exchange, Nash did not press Elliott on the types of drugs he used.
In the NFL’s investigative report about Elliott’s case, however, which was included as an exhibit in the appeal hearing, an interview of Elliott’s accuser discloses some of the substances Elliott allegedly took in the lead-up to the NFL draft. The accuser’s comments came in response to a series of questions about how Elliott confided in his accuser when he had difficult developments in his life.
“It was like, prior to um, drugs and his partying um,” the accuser told NFL investigator Kia Roberts in an interview, according to the report. “He had been in Miami and um, found out when he went out to L.A. they were going to drug test him. And when he was in Miami, he was doing a bunch of um coke, and smoking and all of that. Um, and he like he texted me. I think I still have it. Yeah I still have the text and it was like, um 'l can never, like we can never be done. Um, I love you and you're the only one I could talk to about certain things.' And just like so forth. Like so on.”
Later in the report, Roberts writes that Elliott’s accuser alleges in an interview to have seen Elliott “use cocaine and marijuana,” and the accuser told Roberts that “when he drinks, it's, I don't know, it's just a different side to him. It's like he loses like all control of his self.”
After declaring for the draft early in 2016, Elliott trained for the NFL scouting combine in Aventura, Fla., which is close to Miami. While there, local police were called to Elliott’s apartment for another alleged domestic disturbance between Elliott and his accuser in February of 2016, but Elliott was not arrested nor charged for that matter, either.
Additionally, in Elliott’s direct examination under oath by his own attorney, Scott Rosenblum, he alleges that his accuser, “did Xanax, a lot of prescription pills. She did Molly.”
Dallas drafted Elliott fourth overall, and he led the NFL in rushes (322) and rushing yards (1,631) last season, while also adding 16 total touchdowns.
The NFL Players Association filed an order in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas early Friday morning for a temporary restraining order seeking to vacate any discipline from Elliott’s league appeal. NFL-appointed independent arbitrator Harold Henderson presided over the three-day appeal and is expected to issue a ruling within the next couple of days.
The first hearing for Elliott’s case in the district court will take place Tuesday evening.
Follow Lorenzo Reyes on Twitter @LorenzoGReyes