OXNARD, Calif. — The notion that the NFL has it in for Ezekiel Elliott is comical.

The charge that league officials began with an assumption of guilt and worked back from there for 13 months to validate their investigatory process strains credulity.

People love a good conspiracy theory. Director Oliver Stone has built a lucrative career on these inclinations.

But that doesn’t explain why the NFL would want to tarnish the reputation of one of its brightest young stars. Tell us how it’s in the league’s best interests to give an inordinate amount of weight to what accuser Tiffany Thompson has to say – a woman who will never take a snap in the NFL – and ignore the testimony of its leading rusher.

Present a rationale as to why it makes sense for the NFL to go out of its way to assess Elliott a six-game suspension when Columbus prosecutors declined to file charges on domestic violence.

This isn’t the outcome the NFL wanted. This isn’t the label the league wants to hang around the neck of a player who currently ranks fourth in jersey sales. This is where the evidence and testimony led.

Options for Elliott and his representatives are limited. There are only two threads they can pull at this stage in hopes of unraveling the decision. Those involve Thompson’s veracity and the NFL’s flawed investigation.

Public assaults on both fronts were already underway leading up to Elliott’s appeal, which was filed by the NFL Players Association on Tuesday.

Questioning the motives and truthfulness of the accuser is page one of any playbook written on how to mount a defense against charges of domestic abuse. Elliott’s camp isn’t breaking new ground here.

Instead, let’s focus on the zeal with which those close to Elliott are going after Commissioner Roger Goodell and the league’s investigation.

Monday began with a tweet from Stacy Elliott, the player’s father, saying their legal team is ready to fight, ready to deal and the plot to get his son will be outlined. Later in the day came confirmation of an earlier report that Goodell didn’t attend the meeting with Elliott and his representatives on June 26 when the findings of the investigation were presented.

A few hours later, Stacy Elliott had this tweet: “Goodell also did not meet with Tiffany Thompson, whose credibility also is at issue. Starting to really stink!”

An interesting strategy when you consider Goodell or the person he designates will hear Elliott’s appeal later this month.

Criticism of Goodell in past domestic violence decisions has centered on his role as judge, jury and executioner. Elliott’s team has chosen to focus on how the commissioner’s absence from that June 26 meeting makes him negligent or somehow ill-informed.

Should Goodell and the NFL be faulted for installing an external advisory panel for this investigation that consists of a former attorney general for the state of New Jersey, a former U.S. attorney and former chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission, a former player now in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and the CEO of the Women of Color Network?

Did Goodell abdicate his authority and obligation on this matter by listening to the recommendations of the external panel, or did it strengthen the integrity of the process?

Now, if you want to argue that the severity of Elliott’s suspension is tied to how the league bungled the domestic violence investigations into Ray Rice and Josh Brown, go right ahead. The fact that Rice initially got two games and Brown one feeds into the unfairness narrative being pushed by Elliott’s camp and, on a more subtle level, by Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.

Here’s the problem with going down that road. If you assert the league got it wrong with Rice and Brown and that Elliott is their makeup call, aren’t you implying the league finally got it right? Is your argument that since the league stumbled with Rice and Brown, they owe it to Elliott, in the interest of fairness, to be wrong again?

Domestic violence carries a six-game suspension. Once an NFL investigation concludes that physical abuse took place in a relationship, the suspension can be reduced only by mitigating circumstances or mitigating behavior.

Peter Harvey, New Jersey’s former attorney general, said last week that the panel found nothing at this stage to suggest a lesser penalty. The appeal gives Elliott another chance to shave off a game or two.

In the meantime, rail all you want about how the NFL put a target on Elliott’s back. Claim the league has a vendetta against one of its most popular players on one of its most popular teams.

It simply doesn’t add up.