Before he’s even been tackled for the first time as a pro, Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott has had to defend himself.
First it was for a perhaps-innocent sightseeing trip to a marijuana dispensary that got him a scolding from owner Jerry Jones, and now against something more serious — domestic violence accusations from an ex-girlfriend. Prosecutors have decided to not charge him, and Elliott said he has learned that wearing a star on his helmet has also made him a bull’s eye for attention.
“I’m a target, that’s what I’ve realized from all of this,” Elliott said, via Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “I’ve got to conduct myself that way so I can not have any distractions and I can just focus on ball.”
Part of the allegations from his ex-girlfriend included text messages that suggested he might be worried about passing a drug test, but Elliott shrugged that off.
“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. . . .
“We were very confident since day one. 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.”
Of course, the league’s not at that point yet, as they’re still doing their own investigation. While the absence of criminal charges is good news for him — apparently so he can now focus on ball — there is the fact that he’s now created a pair of PR headaches for the Cowboys before he’s taken his first snap.
That has led some to wonder whether the pattern of behavior is something the Cowboys are going to have to deal with regarding the fourth overall pick from Ohio State. They’ve proven in the past they’re willing to do so with other players, and they’re counting on Elliott in a big way on the field with quarterback Tony Romo hurt.
But Elliott’s casual dismissal of the serious charges against him seems a little too flip, and probably won’t do anything to diminish the concerns of those who were already concerned about him.