Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott will just have to settle for making a donation to the Salvation Army.
The NFL isn’t going to fine him for his touchdown celebration of jumping into the oversized kettle on Sunday night.
“For those wondering, no fine for last nite’s @SalvationArmyUS Kettle Hope by @Ezekiel Elliott,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy wrote in a Twitter post Monday morning.
After the Cowboys’ 26-20 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Elliott vowed to match whatever the league fined him as a donation to the Salvation Army. Now he’ll just be able to make a straight donation.
Elliott posted on his own Twitter account, @EzekielElliott, that he would honor his donation promise.
“Even though I will not be fined I still will be making a donation to the @SalvationArmyUS,” Elliott wrote.
Elliott scored on a 2-yard run in the second quarter and immediately headed toward the kettle. He leapt in it and played a brief game of hide-and-seek. The celebration drew a 15-yard penalty.
“That bucket’s just sitting right there by the end zone,” said Elliott, who set the franchise record for rushing TDs by a rookie with 13.
“It’s only right someone jumps in it.”
The penalty didn’t hurt the Cowboys, either.
The Cowboys kicked off from the 20-yard line, but the Bucs returned the ball only to the 22-yard line, 3 yards short of where they would have started with a touchback.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who wears a Salvation Army pin on his lapel, couldn’t contain his excitement at the publicity Elliott’s stunt generated.
“There’s no question that was the divine touch from up above,” Jones said. “They didn’t gain anything from it. They got the ball back on the 20, 80 yards away after being docked for that. I know that more people are aware of what the Salvation Army was when Zeke jumped in there than maybe any other way we could do it. My dream would be for the NFL to really fine me a lot of money, and I’ll take them to the Supreme Court, and we’ll get the Salvation Army more attention than anybody can get them. So let’s go.”
Elliott finished the game with a career-high 159 rushing yards on 29 carries. He now has 1,551 rushing yards on the season, and needs to average 129 the final two games to break Eric Dickerson’s rookie rushing record of 1,808 yards set in 1983.
But it was Elliott’s TD celebration that had everyone talking in the locker room afterward. Among what was said:
Quarterback Dak Prescott: “He was actually talking about that pregame, should he do it or will they fine me. I didn’t really give much input on it, just thought it would be funny. I didn’t know he was actually going to go down and come back up slow. I think it was worth it.”
Wide receiver Dez Bryant: “I liked that. I liked it a lot. I would have jumped in there with him if I was on the field.”
Tight end Jason Witten: “That was something. He’ll probably catch a little heat there from coach with the penalty but he’s creative and he brings a lot of spark to our football team both on the field and off in a lot of ways. He ran hard tonight and played really well. He’s continuing to do that and it’s great to get him back on track.”
Guard Zack Martin: “That was pretty good. I’m not sure if he’ll get an envelope in the mail or not, but it was pretty good.”
Running back Darren McFadden: “He always does something that’s exciting, man. Anytime I see that, as a running back, we always cheer each other on. Definitely was a good laugh for us.”