Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones remains supportive of running back Ezekiel Elliott one day after a New York judge reinstated his six-game suspension without pay for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy for allegedly committing domestic violence against former girlfriend Tiffany Thompson.
Jones maintains that Elliott, who was not charged or arrested in the case, is not guilty of anything that should get him in trouble with his employer.
Jones says he is troubled by the swings of the case in the court system. He cited a judge in Sherman granting Elliott a preliminary injunction against the suspension because of questions of fairness before it was thrown out by an appeals court in New Orleans and then upheld by the judge in New York on Monday.
Jones said he is also trouble by how the NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell have changed their tune on domestic violence over the years, dating back to the Ray Rice case om 2014.
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“The ruling has more to do with the scope of the commissioner's authority and not really a bearing on whether Zeke is guilty of domestic violence or not,” Jones said on his radio show on 105.3 The Fan. “The judge, in this case, ratified for the commissioner, but his swing of judgment has been unbelievable from the Ray Rice thing of two games all the way up to six games when you truly have a debate.
“Even this judge said it showed that reasonable people could possibly come down on both sides of this. Well, in our legal system, it has to be stronger than that for some to have done it. We all know we weren't there, but I do have every point of contention on both sides. In our system in this country, Zeke would not have any issue here as to his workplace. I will tell you with the knowledge I have, the circumstances aren't treating him fair.”
NFL vice president Joe Lockhart countered via a conference call that “the process we put in place in aftermath of Ray Rice was done thoughtfully, very carefully and in a comprehensive way” with support from all the owners around the league, including Jones.
“We talked to a number of interested parties,” Lockhart said in response to Jones. “Well over 100 experts in the field whether it be domestic violence, law enforcement, the military people, academics. This process took quite a bit of time. The process went through the league's conduct committee and was approved by all of the ownership. Certainly, the commissioner at the time said we had more work to do when it came to domestic violence. But the new personal conduct policy that puts the discipline level at six games is one that was carefully pursued by the league, was done in a thoughtful manner and had the support of owners around the league.”
Jones said this is not an issue whether or not “we are against domestic violence or not.”
“If we have somebody guilty of domestic violence they shouldn't play,” Jones said. “But this is not the case. He is not. In our society, he is not guilty of that. These issues deal with the viability of our domestic violence policy which is lacking right now. Anybody who looks at the facts of the case knows there were divisions and difference of opinions in the league itself. That has to be taken into account.”
Jones said Goodell regrets how he handled the Rice case and says the investigation of Elliott and subsequent discipline is an overcorrection by the league.
“Absolutely,” responded Jones, when asked if the league is appealing to the culture on domestic violence in the Elliott case. “They have swung from where we were two years ago by the same collective bargaining agreement and the same commissioner. Institutions have been in the process starting late. They really react. Then they overreact. Then they have to come back to the middle. Institutions, in general, have had that swing and then a correction. Zeke is a victim of an overcorrection.”