Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett preached about implementing high standards and accountability to 600 youth, middle and high school football coaches at the Ford Center on Wednesday afternoon.
Garrett is trying to live by his words with his own team, although he has yet to speak with star running back Ezekiel Elliott about his latest off-field incident at a bar Sunday night in Dallas.
“I don’t want to make any comment on the situation,” Garrett said. “We’re still gathering information on what that whole situation was. Zeke’s someone we believe very strongly in as a person and as a football player.
“We’re going to continue to believe in him and try to put a structure around him and all of our players to help them make great decisions and grow — grow on and off the field.”
On Wednesday evening, Dallas police suspended the investigation into the incident “due to the lack of a complaint.” No witnesses have come forward and investigators have been unable to reach the 30-year-old who was punched in the nose Sunday night.
Asked why he hasn’t met with Elliott yet, Garrett said: “Yeah, we’ve had different people visit with Zeke. I’ll have a chance to visit with him and other people starting on Friday. Our players will be back in. We’ll have physicals Friday morning and we’ll have our first day of training camp here on Friday before we go out to California.”
But Elliott again finds himself in the headlines for the wrong reasons.
The bar incident adds to the laundry list of off-field issues he has already encountered in his time with the Cowboys. He exposed a woman’s breasts during a St. Patrick’s Day parade; he visited a marijuana dispensary in Seattle last preseason; and he remains under investigation by the NFL for allegations of domestic violence made against him by a former girlfriend a year ago.
With all of this adding up, Elliott could be facing a short suspension by the NFL. Owner Jerry Jones even softened his stance on a possible suspension on Tuesday.
Garrett dodged a question about bracing for the possibility of being without Elliott early on next season.
“I have no real comment on that,” Garrett said.
Elliott, who turns 22 on Saturday, had a standout rookie season. He led the league in rushing with 1,631 yards on 322 carries with 15 touchdowns. He also had 363 receiving yards and a TD.
But it’s the off-field issues that are garnering more attention.
“I don’t want to speak to any specific incident, but there’s no question when something happens off the field we have to address it,” Garrett said. “We have to make sure that we’re on top of it and we understand what happened and get all the information about what happened or what didn’t happen and address it accordingly and hold ourselves and each other accountable to what the standards are. And we’ll continue to do that.”