Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith has been suspended without pay for the first four games of the regular season, which includes the Sept. 9 season opener against the Bills.
The league said Smith was suspended for violating the personal conduct policy. He is eligible to return on Oct. 1 following the Ravens' game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The suspension stems from a child custody case involving Smith and a former girlfriend who is the mother of his first child. The Baltimore Sun reported in November that the girlfriend had made allegations of domestic violence toward Smith and said Smith used illicit drugs in a petition filed in Baltimore County Circuit Court. Smith denied the allegations.
In a statement, the Ravens said they fully supported the league's decision. "The NFL found evidence of threatening and emotionally abusive behaviors by Jimmy toward his former girlfriend that showed a pattern of improper conduct. Our player’s behavior was inappropriate and wrong," the team said.
In a statement released by the team Tuesday, Smith said: "I would like to sincerely apologize to my former girlfriend, the NFL, the Ravens organization, my coaches, my teammates, my fiancée and all our fans. I'm very disappointed that my past actions have led to this suspension. I promise that I have already learned much and will continue to learn more from this experience. I believe I am, and will continue to try to be, a better person and a better father because of this. I am committed to being the best I can be, both on and off the field.
"I take full responsibility for my past conduct. Moving forward, I will work with the NFL and the Ravens to ensure that what happened in the past will never happen again. I will take all necessary steps to be a positive role model for both my sons, for the NFL and for the entire Ravens community."