The unveiling of the Ring Honor Walk at the Star at Frisco offered an opportunity for the Dallas Cowboys’ most beloved legends to dish on star running back Ezekiel Elliott and his six-game suspension for violating the league’s personal conduct policy.
Pro Football Hall of Fame receiver Michael Irvin was the most expansive on the issue, including an opinion that his six-game suspension won’t be reduced on appeal and the time away will be tough on Elliott.
“Let’s be real, guys, we are dealing in a situation with social media and all that,” Irvin said. “I think it will be very difficult for the NFL to come out with a policy and say automatic six games if they find something. And you appeal it and the first time they go six they come back and go three games, four games. I just think you guys would bang them across the head so bad intentionally, especially the national media. I’m not saying that I have any information. I’m not privy to any information. I don’t know for sure. I just look at the optics of it and what it smells like to me.”
Irvin knows what it’s like to be suspended, having served a five-game suspension in 1996 after a no-contest plea to felony cocaine possession.
He said the mental and emotional aspect of having the game taken away and being away for your teammates will be tough on Elliott.
“It is a tough thing,” Irvin said. “Zeke plays with intensity. That’s what I love about him. And now to try to channel that energy is very, very difficult with all that goes on around you and everybody knowing about it, no matter where you go you feel a certain way.
“But the most difficult part is sitting home Sunday watching your team play without you. Oh my god, man, oh my god, man, it’s very difficult, man, especially if things aren’t going right. You’re sitting there saying, ‘Oh, man, you got to make this call, you should have done this, you shouldn’t be doing things, I wouldn’t be doing this right now, I would have done this.’ It’s very difficult. I’ll get a chance to chat with him here … just to talk to him about that, just to be prepared for it and the emotional aspect of it.”
Irvin said he hopes Elliott learns from the experience and returns a better man and better football player.
But he reiterated that the process would be difficult.
“We all hope, everything we go through we hope that it ultimately brings about great results in the long run,” Irvin said. “We’ll see what that brings about. I’m just saying right now it’s going to be difficult.”
Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith connected with Elliott during owner Jerry Jones’ Hall of Fame induction a few weeks ago and plans to mentor him. The NFL’s all-time leading rusher says he is not giving up on the league’s reigning rushing champ from a year ago.
“You know, I’m not going to discuss the personal matters between Zeke and myself,” Smith said. “I think he needs to have a place of trust and if that’s within me I’m going to try and keep it that way. But, you know, I think very highly of the young man. I really do.”
Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman didn’t have much advice for Elliott except for the obvious. He said Elliott knows what he needs to do and if he didn’t in the past, he knows more than ever now.
“I think you’ve got to be careful and you can’t put yourself in certain situations where you become vulnerable or you get put into a position to where something bad could potentially occur,” Aikman said. “But all of these guys know that. These guys are grown men, they’ve lived in an era of social media, you’ve got to at least anticipate that every action is going to be videoed. If he didn’t know that already, I’m sure now it’s certainly gotten his attention.”