It doesn’t seem that long ago that Ezekiel Elliott‘s off-field choices were drawing scrutiny.
The Cowboys running back has generated headlines this offseason but only the positive kind. He took a selfie with a young fan hit by a puck at a Dallas Stars NHL playoff game. He participated in leadership drills with teammates in North Carolina. He appeared at Emmitt Smith’s charity event.
Elliott appears all grown up with a big contract to sign, embracing the spotlight instead of cursing it.
“I think that Zeke has always had a wonderful heart,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said Tuesday at the groundbreaking of the Gene and Jerry Jones Family Hope Lodge in Dallas, via Kate Hairopoulos of the Dallas Morning News. “These players can see through anybody. All you got to do is go in locker room, and you’ll see that Zeke is inspirational. Zeke is inspirational with not only what he does on the field, but what he does in the locker room. He’s a bright soul, I call him.
“There was really no doubt that some of those things that frankly reflect just a spirit of positiveness, a spirit of being alive, those kind of things took some adjusting.”
Elliott served a six-game suspension in 2017 for violating the personal conduct policy after fighting the NFL in court. Since then, Elliott has done the most good, including raising money for the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle campaign during the holidays.
“I didn’t have any of that problem when I was in my late teens and early 20s,” Jones said facetiously, “but some do, and we have to grow out of that.”
The Cowboys exercised the fifth-year option on Elliott’s contract, putting him under contract through the 2020 season, but he wants a long-term deal. That isn’t likely to occur before Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper get new contracts, though.