In a court of law, the accused is supposed to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.
In today’s NFL, however, the public’s verdict is as swift as Deadspin and TMZ.
Ezekiel Elliott, the Dallas Cowboys’ No. 1 draft pick, was not arrested or charged in Friday’s early morning incident with a female friend in Columbus, Ohio.
There reportedly were witnesses, as there often are at 2:35 a.m. after the bars close. I’m sure Elliott’s buddies were quick to tell law enforcement officers their version of what went on.
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
But the alleged victim posted photos of her bruises on her Instagram account. And while the photos only show bruises and red marks on her arms and wrist, her accompanying text reads, “This has been happening to me for months and it finally got out of control to where I was picked up and thrown across the room by my arms. Thrown into walls.
“Being choked to where I have to gasp for breath. Bruised everywhere, mentally and physically abused.”
Despite the pictures, Elliott denied that an assault took place. Despite his admission that he paid the alleged victim’s rent and helped to buy her a vehicle, Elliott denied that he and the woman lived together. And despite the alleged victim’s Instagram post, Elliott told police that her bruises came from an earlier bar fight.
What is clear, though, is that Elliott picked the wrong line of work if he wanted to deny any domestic abuse charges. Greg Hardy said he didn’t do anything, either. Cameras caught Ray Rice punching his wife in the face in 2014 and he hasn’t carried an NFL football since.
I’m not saying what Rice and Hardy did are even remotely the same as what Elliott was allegedly involved in at 2:35 a.m. Friday.
But perception these days is what the Internet says it is. The social media juries’ verdicts come damningly quick.
The truth is out there, but you sometimes have to sift through dozens of pages on Google search to find it.
Owner Jones, I’m guessing, will be quick to dismiss the Elliott incident. After all, training camp is about to open and the Cowboys need their No. 1 running back.
Cowboys fans, likewise, were quick Friday to proclaim Elliott’s innocence, as if they, too, were in Columbus and witnessed the whole thing.
The published police reports make it easy to see why charges were not filed. Statements conflicted, including who lived with whom.
A constitution-abiding citizen should give Ezekiel Elliott of the Cowboys the benefit of the doubt — innocent until proven otherwise.
But that’s not the way the public does things in these Deadspin and TMZ times.
And there are these pictures. And the words the victim wrote.
Who are we to hastily judge those?