Mac Engel

Rules of the workplace crush Ezekiel Elliott

Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott could be out for the next six games.
Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott could be out for the next six games. AP

For the second time this week the Dallas Cowboys must deal with the rules of the workplace. The fans loved the first one; they’re not going to like the second.

First it was Jerry Jones’ code-of-conduct edict that his employees must stand and “create the perception” of honoring the flag.

Now it’s Ezekiel Elliott, who successfully created the perception that he violated the NFL’s code of conduct policy.

It does not matter if it’s fair, or right. What matters is that while the Cowboys are a football team, it’s also just another office space dealing with red staplers, PC load letters and various rules. Just as Jerry outlined rules for his players, so too has the NFL.

The NFL has collectively-bargained rules, and while the NFL Players Association continues to embarrass itself over this and other issues, Zeke is going to have to sit for a chunk of this season. He earned it. As a result, his entire team will suffer the consequences, and yet another Dallas Cowboys season with Super Bowl aspirations is covered in pigeon poop.

Unless Dak is Greek for God.

On Thursday afternoon, the 5th Circuit Court in New Orleans ruled 2-1 to dismiss Elliott’s case against the NFL. This allows the NFL to re-instate its six-game suspension of its leading rusher from last season.

Hooray for workplace rules! They are wonderful, especially when you create the perception of agreeing with them.

As much as this outcome is ultimately on Zeke, it’s also on Jerry, the Cowboys, the other clubs and the NFLPA for agreeing to rules, and language, that would allow this to happen.

What were their lawyers doing, other than cashing checks?

Lawyers for the NFL run into Ezekiel Elliott lawyers before 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans

The NFLPA can file another motion on behalf of Zeke in order to maintain his eligibility this season, only this suit would be in a New York court.

Aaaaaaand forget it. That is the court where Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who never loses at anything, was defeated in his efforts to win the Deflate-gate case against the NFL.

At this point, Zeke and the NFLPA may just file the motion. It’s a last swing, but there is a better chance of Jerry taking a knee during the next national anthem than Zeke winning this one.

The Cowboys, Zeke, fantasy football owners, and millions of Cowboys fans are going to have to just eat it. One of the most dynamic offensive players in the NFL is out for six games.

If you are counting at home, this is a stretch of games that includes the 49ers, the Redskins twice, Chiefs, Falcons and Eagles. That means the earliest we will see Zeke on the field is Week 14 on Dec. 10 against the New York Giants in New Jersey.

The Cowboys are 2-3 with Zeke. How will they be without the NFL’s fourth leading rusher?

The Cowboys knew this guy was a diva and “had stuff” when they made him the fourth overall pick out of Ohio State in the 2016 NFL draft, but they took him anyway because he’s good at football.

Not long after he was drafted, Zeke was accused of assault by an ex-girlfriend, which started the NFL’s 13-month investigation into Zeke. The results were confusing, and inconclusive. Before the season began, Cowboys executives believed the most Zeke would be suspended was two games.

There was a consensus within the Cowboys, and Zeke, that they would not fight a two-game suspension. There was enough “body of work” to merit that type of punishment.

When he was hit with a six-game suspension during training camp, the Cowboys, and Zeke, were furious. Cowboys executives, namely owner Jerry Jones, simply did not think there was enough to warrant missing six games, so they lawyered up.

Detractors and critics of the NFL railed that this suspension is an another example of league commissioner Roger Goodell acting the part of a Soviet Union era dictator and using unnecessary force in a case where the facts did not align.

There is a reason Zeke was never indicted on any of the accusations made against him.

Those critics and detractors of the NFL and Goodell may be correct.

And, here we sit nearing the finish line of this whole ordeal, all of those valid points and evidence used against against Goodell and the NFL on this are irrelevant.

It’s not Zeke’s league. Just as the league never belonged to Johnny Unitas, Roger Staubach, Emmitt Smith nor any of the all-time great players who made, and make, the NFL so much fun. The players are the stars and the reason we watch, but they don’t own the NFL.

Disregard the weak lip service offered by any owner when he says they are temporary stewards of the team; that the team belongs to the fans.

The league belongs to the men who own the 31 franchises (the Green Bay Packers are publicly owned). Goodell is simply doing the owner’s dirty work. Sometimes the owners and the commish don’t agree, but they get over it at a league meeting in a five-star hotel in Hawaii.

Just as Jerry is free to enforce his rules of the workplace of the Dallas Cowboys, Goodell is free to enforce the code of conduct as agreed to by the NFL owners and the NFL Players Association.

Whatever specific acts were committed by Zeke in this matter we will never know. We know he did something.

We know when the NFL looked into this matter they found enough to warrant a six-game suspension because he created the perception of violating the league’s code of conduct policy.

He’s just a “victim” of the rules of the workplace.

Mac Engel: @macengelprof

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