Dallas Cowboys rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott is glad to be vindicated from domestic violence accusations by his former girlfriend Tiffany Thompson and is excited to focus all of his attention on Sunday’s season opener against the New York Giants.
But the former Ohio State calls the six-week ordeal, which began July 22 and ended Tuesday when prosecutors in Columbus, Ohio, declined to be bring charges against him, a lesson learned.
“I’m a target, that’s what I’ve realized from all of this,” Elliott said. “I’ve got to conduct myself that way so I can not have any distractions and I can just focus on ball.”
Elliott denied knowledge of texts that came out of court records, suggesting that he might be worried about passing a drug test before the start of training camp.
“Honestly, I have no idea what you are talking about. I haven't seen those,” Elliott said. “I'm actually talking about football. I'm sorry.”
The NFL will have the final say in both matters, as a league investigation remains ongoing.
The situation is over as far as Elliott is concerned.
“We were very confident since day one,” Elliott said. “Wasn’t really worried that much. I know I didn’t do anything wrong. Honestly, I was just focused on ball. I let my lawyers and representatives handle the rest. I’m glad to put the distractions behind me and I’m excited to start this season. I’m excited to open up against the Giants and I’m ready to leave all that behind me.”
Elliott allows that some damage has been done to his reputations by the false allegations.
“I’m just focused on now,” Elliott said.
With the case closed, Elliott gets to embark on a childhood dream and a first step toward greatness.
The Cowboys picked Elliott fourth overall in the spring NFL Draft after a record-setting career at Ohio State. They called him the best back to come out college since future Hall of Famer Adrian Peterson of Minnesota Vikings.
He is the third running back in franchise history to be picked among the top 20 players in the NFL Draft, joining Hall of Famers Tony Dorsett and Emmitt Smith.
“Playing in the NFL is something I've wanted since I was a little kid,” Elliott said. “The way I was raised is to expect greatness. I wouldn’t have it any other way. It's not a surprise to me at all.”
He refuses to list any personal goals. Still, Elliott acknowledges that he knows the yardage it will take to break Eric Dickerson’s rookie rushing record of 1,808 yards set in 1983.
“Someone brought it to my attention,” Elliott said. “We were actually just talking about it today in the running back room.”
So is that the goal?
“Whatever the team requires of me,” Elliott said. “I’m going to do whatever is asked of me to help win the game. I’m not going to go out there and try to put a numerical value on how many yards I want to run, how many touchdowns I plan on scoring. I just want to go out there and compete and win.”
That will be easier to do with the weight to domestic violence changes off his back.