When it comes to Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott‘s contractual entanglement with the team, I’m fully in favor of Zeke’s position. When it comes to his legal entanglement with a 19-year-old security guard who ended up on the ground after an encounter with Elliott at a Las Vegas music festival in May, I couldn’t disagree more with his legal team’s characterization of the situation.
It may feel like extortion to Elliott, to the extent that Johnson and/or his lawyers have demanded a civil settlement from Elliott before filing a criminal complaint for battery. But it’s not extortion for someone to seek compensation under the threat/promise of taking legal action warranted by the circumstances.
The video originally obtained by TMZ shows Elliott and Johnson in a face-to-face altercation, with Elliott clearly the aggressor. While it isn’t clear from the video whether Johnson fell while backing away from Elliott or Elliott pushed Johnson down with an elbow, Johnson consistently has said he was pushed.
The fact that Johnson wasn’t battered or bruised doesn’t matter. If someone makes deliberate, intentional contact with someone else, a battery has happened. And Johnson is simply advancing his rights, which he can do by filing criminal charges or pursuing a civil action.
Extortion happens when (for example) someone threatens to publish embarrassing information about someone else absent a cash payment, or when (for example) the mob says, “That’s a nice business you have. It would be a shame if it burns down. For $1,000 a week, we’ll make sure that doesn’t happen.”
Both examples of actual extortion are a far cry from Johnson seeking justice against Elliott. While Johnson may not prevail, any potential weaknesses in a case don’t make the case extortion.