While no NFL players (or anyone else) should be pulling down a woman’s top in public and exposing one of her breasts, the last one who should be doing it is Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliot. And yet he has done just that, via TMZ.
Elliott, who remains under investigation for domestic violence allegations made against him last year, pulled at the top of a woman and exposed her breast in an incident that was captured on video during a St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
Per TMZ, one of Elliott’s representatives claims it was “all in good fun” and that the “woman wasn’t upset.”
Whether the woman whose clothing was partially removed in a public place by Elliott is upset doesn’t matter. Whether the league office views the behavior in a negative way does. If the folks at 345 Park Avenue trying to sift through the evidence are still undecided on whether to believe Elliott or the woman who has accused him of five incident of domestic violence in a six-day period, this is the kind of thing that could break the tie under the very low “more likely than not” standard of evidence.
It also could amount to an aggravating circumstance for any violation happening in 2016, enhancing the punishment the league imposes. It also could amount to a separate violation of the Personal Conduct Policy.
Given the explanation provided nearly seven years ago when Goodell suspended Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, it’s not a stretch to conclude that the league would take action for this kind of conduct regardless of whether the woman was upset by it.
“My decision today is not based on a finding that you violated [the] law,” Goodell told Roethlisberger. “[Y]ou are held to a higher standard as an NFL player, and there is nothing about your conduct . . . that can remotely be described as admirable, responsible, or consistent with either the values of the league or the expectations of our fans. . . . Your conduct raises sufficient concerns that I believe effective intervention now is the best step for your personal and professional welfare.”
It doesn’t matter whether Elliott, the woman, the media, the fans, or anyone else believe that Elliott’s conduct crosses the line. What matters is whether the NFL believes it, and whether the NFL will do something about it.