A domestic violence accusation that didn’t merit legal charges isn’t the only issue that could land Ezekiel Elliott a suspension by the NFL.
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said the league is looking into Elliott’s pattern of behavior, during an interview on the NBC national telecast of Thursday’s Hall of Fame game.
“There are a couple of issues that might or might not fall — and that’s going to be up to the league to the decide — under the behavioral guidelines,” Jones said. “But in my opinion, we’re preparing our team for Zeke and should.”
Elliott, 22, was invovled in a bar altercation last month at a Dallas establishment, although police have suspended their investigation as the victim has refused to come forward.
Elliott also made headlines for the wrong reasons earlier this off-season for exposing a woman’s breast during a St. Patrick’s Day festivity.
Jones said on the broadcast that players will “hit that hot stove two or three times and then learn not to touch it,” particularly players of Elliott’s stature.
“I know first hand what it’s like for Zeke to go out in public,” Jones said. “It’s like a rock star. It’s almost uncontrollable, and so that’s a challenge. That would be a challenge for anyone. He’s got to learn to basically meet that challenge. It’s been my experience that when players have that type of attention, create that type of dynamic, they learn.
“Zeke is exceptionally intelligent. He’s obviously a great player, and I can’t emphasize enough how hard he works. There’s nobody who works harder than he does, and is more professional about how he gets ready to play a game.”
Jones reiterated that the Cowboys are preparing as though Elliott will be available for the season opener against the New York Giants on Sept. 10.
Elliott, 22, has been under investigation by the league for more than a year. The investigation began after an ex-girlfriend accused Elliott of domestic violence last summer. But the Columbus, Ohio city prosecutor’s office declined to go forward with charges because of inconsistencies in the victim’s statements.
Jones has repeatedly stated the NFL has no grounds for a suspension on that matter, and did so again Thursday.
“From the domestic violence issue, there’s not an issue,” Jones said. “I think that my hope is that Zeke is with us opening night, and I don’t want to get into anything that might in any way influence negatively that decision from the league office.”
An NFL spokesman said Thursday that a decision has not yet been made by the league regarding Elliott and a possible suspension.
But a source confirmed an ESPN report earlier this week that commissioner Roger Goodell is having an outside expert panel of four people review Elliott’s situation and offer their thoughts and perspectives on the matter. Goodell will make the final decision.
Elliott, the fourth overall pick last season out of Ohio State, led the league in rushing with 1,631 yards and 15 touchdowns. The Cowboys are expected to utilize him even more in this year’s offense.