The Dallas Cowboys were dealt a potentially crippling blow Friday when the NFL announced a six-game suspension for 2016 NFL rushing leader Ezekiel Elliott.

The NFL investigated Elliott for over a year, and some form of punishment felt inevitable, but most around the league did not expect the six-game suspension. Elliott himself admitted after the suspension that while he "strongly disagrees" with the decision, he is "far from perfect." He plans to appeal the suspension, which opens up a whole host of other questions,  including the full plan for that appeal process.

According to Elliott's father on Twitter, the family and Zeke have their "legal team ready" to fight the suspension as aggressively as possible.

The presumptive claim from Elliott, given what he chose to screenshot from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, is that Elliott's accuser threatened to submarine Elliott's career and "misled investigators." Again, presumably, this will be part of the claim from Elliott's camp. 

This is another one of those sagas that could linger for a while around the Cowboys. Elliott already been under investigation since 2016 by the league. This incident occurred a long time ago. But as we learned from Deflategate, when you get the court system involved, things can last even longer. 

Should Elliott lose his appeal to the NFL -- or even have his suspension reduced and disagree with that decision -- the running back would be forced to take his claim to court. 

The good news for Elliott is he could potentially get an injunction to play football in Week 1 (a la Tom Brady in 2015 with the Patriots). The bad news is that, like Brady, Elliott probably faces a steeper uphill battle. Roger Goodell has, more or less, unilateral power when it comes to suspensions. Even if he blatantly oversteps his bounds -- as many believe he did in the Brady matter -- the courts have decided they are basically powerless to change things because of what the NFL players agreed to in the most recent Collective Bargaining Agreement. 

Elliott's behavior this offseason is not going to help matters. There is a very good chance he was suspended six games because of visual evidence (pictures of bruises, etc) that create bad optics for the league, along with the mitigating circumstances from this offseason, which featured Elliott pulling down a woman's shirt at a parade and allegedly being involved in a bar fight that put a man in the hospital.

Regardless of where this goes next, do not expect it to reach a conclusion immediately unless Elliott secures a reasonable victory on appeal or simply happens to decide fighting the decision is not worth it.