Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones suffered a setback against NFL commissioner Roger Goodell earlier this week when he was forced to reimburse the league $2 million in legal fees, stemming partly from its fight in federal court against running back Ezekiel Elliott.
Jones provided Elliott a letter of support when he filed suit against the NFL in hopes of overturning a six-game suspension for violating the league’s personal conduct policy.
Elliott lost in court as did Jones, who was accused of offering assistance to the running back.
Jones, however, won where it counted most as Elliott is forever indebted for his support, and tweeted as much Thursday.
"Much love and thanks to Mr. Jones for standing behind me — as he does for all of his players,” Elliott wrote. “Great appreciation. Time to move on and look forward to a great season in ’18.”
After leading the NFL with 1,603 yards rushing in 2016, Elliott rushed for 983 yards in 10 games last year due to the six-game suspension.
The Cowboys went 3-3 without Elliott and finished 9-7.
With Elliott on the field for 16 games in 2018, the Cowboys believe they will be right back in the playoff hunt.
And they have shown their support for Elliott not just in words, but in deeds.
The Cowboys are not monitoring Elliott any closer this off-season. They believe he has learned from his experiences of the past year even though they firmly believe he should never have been suspended for an incident that did not result in an arrest or charges.
"He's paid as high a price from the level of ... he's paid the most level of punishment that I've seen for what he did," Jones said at the NFL Scouting Combine. "That would make any of us cognizant of the fact that you have serious accountability for any situation that you get into. The more meaningful, and it's costly, and it's certainly cost him. He is smart. We should have every reason to believe that that will be a constant reminder when you're making decisions. I think that's the case."
Vice president Stephen Jones had a similar answer when asked if the Cowboys were paying closer attention to Elliott this off-season, considering his importance to the team. Stephen Jones said Elliott can have an amazing career and possibly end up in the Hall of Fame like former Cowboys receiver Michael Irvin, who is an example of a player who learned from his off-field mistakes.
“I think he’s doing well," Stephen Jones said. "I wouldn’t say we monitor him any closer. You can only do so much. These are grown men. I have a lot of confidence that Zeke has learned a lot. Hopefully, he has. Because if he has and he changes his behavior and he's able to stay on the field, we all know he can be one of the greatest to ever play the game, if he takes care of himself and takes care of his business off the field.
"I think Zeke wants that. He’s a competitor. I think he wants to be one of the best. He certainly knows that he’s got to take care of business too. We’ve had great players that have had to do better before. Michael [Irvin] will tell you that he had to learn valuable lessons. But he turned out to be a Hall of Famer. I think if Zeke will pay attention and do the right things off the field and be responsible then he can certainly have an amazing career.”