Ezekiel Elliott didn’t know he’d be eligible to play for the Dallas Cowboys until Friday.
That’s when the Second Circuit Court of Appeals granted an administrative stay in his legal battle with the NFL over a six-game suspension for violating the league’s personal conduct policy.
Elliott had to stay away from the Cowboys’ facility Wednesday and Thursday, but the short week certainly didn’t show up against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.
Elliott rushed for 93 yards on 27 carries, including a 2-yard touchdown run in the third quarter that regained the Cowboys’ lead 21-17. But Elliott admitted he had a little bit of rust early on.
“Honestly, I had no idea when I came in on Friday that I even had a chance to play,” said Elliott, who fell just short of a fourth straight 100-yard game.
“I really didn’t know I was playing this weekend. I just came in Friday, practiced and stayed all day Friday, watched a lot of film on Saturday, just trying to catch up to this team and catch up for what I lost.”
Elliott appeared to get caught up rather quickly, and impressed his teammates in how he played. He out-performed the league’s leading rusher, Kansas City’s Kareem Hunt, by 56 yards.
Elliott now has 783 yards at the midway point, putting him on pace for 1,566 yards.
“We know how much he means to this team. Zeke is our No. 1 weapon,” receiver Dez Bryant said. “That’s our guy and he’s an animal. We’re behind him regardless of any situation.”
Added owner Jerry Jones: “Zeke is amazing. His attitude, his positiveness, you can see it. It’s reflected in the way he plays. That’s all I’ll say there. But I can’t say enough good things about how he inspired us to be out there.”
But the suspension cloud continues to hang over Elliott and the Cowboys. More should be known this week when a three judge panel in the Second Circuit makes a determination on a possible injunction.
An ESPN report surfaced Sunday that Elliott could try and settle the suspension with the league, but Elliott disputed that. Elliott said he has the “same mentality” in terms of fighting the NFL over what he feels is an unjust suspension.
Elliott has maintained his innocence and wants to clear his name after the league labeled him an abuser, citing three instances in which it felt he used physical force against his ex-girlfriend, Tiffany Thompson, in July 2016.
Jones declined comment on a possible settlement between the league and Elliott.
“Anytime you have that type of talk or contract, settlement, anything that involves two or three parties, I have no comment on that,” Jones said. “I don’t have any way to speculate on where we might go from here and don’t want to.”
Jones also didn’t want to predict any sort of odds that Elliott may be available for the rest of the season. He’s seen the case take too many twists and turns to draw any sort of conclusion.
“I don’t have a thought there and don’t want in any way to influence it,” Jones said. “It’s good it’s got three people to look at it. But, again, we’re not talking about the issue of whether there’s domestic violence or not.”
Jones reiterated that he believes the NFL has treated Elliott unfairly in the process. The Columbus, Ohio, city prosecutor’s office declined to pursue charges after its own investigation found Thompson provided inconsistent and misleading information.
The league’s investigator, Kia Roberts, who interviewed Thompson also had questions about her credibility. But Commissioner Roger Goodell made the decision to suspend Elliott after getting feedback from a four-person expert panel who reviewed the case.
“We have to speak to fairness and we can only look at our very judicial system ourselves,” Jones said. “Make no mistake about it — we don’t tolerate and abhor any type of physical abuse, certainly domestic violence, but this flies in the face of any fairness that we take a lot of pride in in America.
“To have this thing drawn out like this, quick, speedy resolution, this is just some people trying to get into areas they don’t have a lot of experience in. We’ve got 200-something years of the judicial system in this country that all we’ve got to do is say, ‘Let that take care of it.’ ”