Cowboys tight end Jason Witten admits this situation is awkward for him.
As someone who grew up with an abusive father and has advocated for women and children impacted by domestic violence, he likely feels a certain away about the allegations against teammate Ezekiel Elliott which led to a six-game suspension.
But Witten also has a role as a teammate and a leader in the Cowboys locker room, and he said he doesn’t have all the facts he needs to speak in an informed manner.
“I’m not privy to all the information that’s gone on over the last year,” Witten said, via Drew Davison of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “I’d say this: there’s no place for a man to put his hand on a woman. Most of you know that that’s a situation that’s affected my family as a younger kid, so I put a lot of work and attention and have a platform to step out and speak on stopping domestic violence.
“Having said that, Zeke continues to work through it. He’s talked about it. How many games and all that stuff? That’s not what you really deal with. He’s a teammate and just need to work through it with him and have this opportunity to grow from it. I think that’s what his purpose is right now.”
Elliott has defended his innocence, while apologizing to the team for creating the dreaded distraction. And so while Witten may have conflicted feelings about the situation, he also feels an obligation to his team and his teammate.
“Certainly these situations are never easy,” Witten said. “But Zeke’s been a teammate of mine for the last year and I’ve enjoyed having that relationship with him. Not only as a tremendous football player, but the opportunity to be able to have a relationship with him and mentor him. . . . I’m certain that he’ll work through it and be better and grow from it.
“Quite frankly, it’s uncomfortable even having the conversation right now, but you go through it, and [you’re] in a position to be a leader, and you continue to show the way and allow guys to grow, and I know that’s been a tough year on him. I think that his mindset has been such what he’s said, what he’s already released, I think that that’s a pretty good perspective on what he’s trying to do moving forward.”
Because of his status in the organization and around the league, having Witten offer even conditional support for Elliott will be significant for him when he returns to the field. But he also gives Witten a chance to raise awareness to a situation that’s extremely personal to him.