Star Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliot has garnered some unwanted attention off the football field as of late. The reigning rushing champion has allegedly been involved in two incidences that could land him in some hot water with the NFL.
The first took place in Columbus, Ohio, last year and involved his girlfriend. Elliot was dismissed from domestic disturbance charges by local officials due to contradicting stories and inconsistent facts. Still, this wouldn’t necessarily save him from the wrath of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. There were numerous reports that stated Elliot would face a brief suspension from the league for his actions in 2016, but the NFL neither confirmed nor denied these rumors. Then Sunday happened.
A video taken at Clutch Bar in uptown Dallas shows a victim on the ground in pain before he was assisted into an ambulance moments later. The victim was clutching his nose and was allegedly punched in the face by someone he didn’t know. While a witness claimed Elliot was responsible for the attack on Twitter, there’s no reason to believe the 22-year-old will face charges because there’s simply no proof of who the attacker was. However, even the slightest hint of involvement doesn’t bode well for Elliot while he’s already under investigation by the NFL.
Now, if history tells us anything, video footage goes a long way with Roger Goodell. The Commissioner decided only to suspend former Baltimore Ravens ball carrier Ray Rice for a couple of games after he repeatedly struck his wife in an elevator. Later, once disturbing video footage of the act itself was released, Rice was suspended indefinitely.
It’s not fair to compare the actions of Elliot to Rice. While Elliot was under investigation for violence against his girlfriend last year, no charges were ultimately filed. As for the latest incident, there’s absolutely no video evidence of Elliot even crossing paths with the victim on Sunday night. As for the citizen allegations, you can’t take anything you read on Twitter seriously, especially if it comes from a random source. Having said that, Goodell could simply be fed up with hearing Elliot’s name involved with unattractive stories for the league. If I were commissioner, I wouldn’t call for any sort of suspension until further evidence against him came forward. If the law can’t find a reason to discipline Elliot, why should the league?
Keep in mind that Commissioner Goodell has repeatedly made questionable decisions on other allegations made against his players. Perhaps most notably, the Commissioner spent the better part of two years dragging New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s name through the mud for the “deflategate” allegations after the 2015 AFC Championship Game. While no major incriminating evidence was ever presented, the future Hall-of-Famer was still forced to miss the first four games of the 2016 season. While I don’t see Elliot missing four games, you can certainly argue that being involved in these situations, even allegedly, is much worse than anything Brady ever did. Ultimately, it will come down to how Goodell personally feels about the player involved.
While Ezekiel Elliot shouldn’t necessarily be suspended, this is a problem that doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon. Even though he’s young, Elliot has been in the spotlight for quite some time now dating back to his days at Ohio State. It’s no secret that the running back enjoys the nightlife and other vices. During his rookie season, Elliot was spotted at a marijuana dispensary in Seattle prior to a road matchup with the Seahawks. There seems to be a consistent stream of questionable decisions, or at least finding himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. He will need to make some changes in his personal life to avoid future suspensions.
The Cowboys will begin training camp on Monday in Oxnard, Calif. It will last until Aug. 18. They will begin the preseason on Aug. 12 against the Rams in Los Angeles and open the 2017 regular season in Dallas against the Giants on Sept. 10.
Campbell Atkins handles sports and education for the Madisonville Meteor. He can be reached at (936) 348-3505 or firstname.lastname@example.org.