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When the NFL announced Aug. 11 star running back Ezekiel Elliott would be suspended six games for his role in a domestic violence dispute in 2016, we were all stuck in a collective moment of shock.

The same league that originally suspended Ray Rice just two games for striking his then-girlfriend prior to the gruesome video release is now trying to play judge and jury on Elliott’s domestic violence case.

Roger Goodell and company reached their verdict just one year after the Columbus Police Department decided the claims from Elliott’s accuser, ex-girlfriend Tiffany Thompson, were not substantial enough to press charges against the eventual stand-out Cowboys rookie.

Now, domestic violence rears its ugly head again with the NFL and this time there are a plethora of questions to be answered.

It seems the most egregious mistakes we’ve seen from the NFL have surrounded unforgivable acts towards women. Yet, somehow we’re supposed to believe the NFL when it says its finally ready to come down harder on perpetrators.

The NFL’s fervor to find some semblance of justice in domestic violence cases can be described as inconsistent at best. Former New York Giants kicker, Josh Brown, was met with a one-game suspension when allegations of domestic violence arose involving his then-wife, despite the kicker acknowledging physical abuse occurred.

There’s no basis to believe the NFL’s sincerity in handing down this suspension. If Elliott indeed left his accuser with multiple bruises on her body, he should be suspended for an entire season. Six games sounds harsh, but it’s still a slap on the wrist when Browns receiver Josh Gordon hasn’t played since December 2014 due to failed drug tests for marijuana.

The credibility of all parties involved makes this one of the more perplexing cases in recent memory.

Four witnesses told police they did not observe the assault Thompson alleged to have happened while she sat with Elliott in a parked car, according to a 2016 ESPN report.

However, you have to take the police’s decision against filing charges with a grain of salt. Cases of domestic violence often become a “he-said, she-said” situation and Thompson’s credibility took a hit when she admitted to NFL investigators she discussed leveraging sex tapes with Elliott to black mail him out of money.

In text messages acquired by Yahoo Sports, Thompson wrote to her friend “Go big or go home” when discussing how much money she should be requesting from Elliott.

Needless to say, it wasn’t a good look.

The texts show Thompson could have had ulterior motives in her legal pursuit against Elliott, but it doesn’t prove she wasn’t abused. For all we know, she could have been upset about her abuse when she sent the messages.

The issue is we have no reason to believe Elliott or his father, Stacy, in their staunch defense against Elliott’s accuser. We’ve seen too many examples of athletes abusing and disrespecting women to ever stand firm with an athlete accused of a violent act.

And perhaps Elliott’s arrogance throughout the entire case feels slightly puzzling.

His defiance has been loud and clear, and he hasn’t stopped putting himself on the line for public scrutiny. Elliott was infamously filmed exposing a woman’s breast at a St. Patrick’s Day party in March.

Despite indisputable evidence of dishonesty and misleading texts messages; one thing is clear: if Elliott is lying, he’s a reprehensible human being. Perhaps the only thing as bad as abusing someone who trusted you is carrying out a long and complicated lie.

No matter where the story ends, I hope Elliott realizes he is not without blame. He has to keep a low profile and improve his interactions with women.

The culture to which he and many powerful men subscribe is often harmful and dismissive of women in general.

Ultimately, the only thing stopping Elliott from a Hall of Fame career could be his transgressions.

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