Dallas Cowboys fans were enraged when the NFL suspended superstar running back Ezekiel Elliott for six games. Elliott’s suspension came as a result of a domestic violence case. He was only suspected, not convicted, but it seemed a pretty open and shut situation.
In recent years, the NFL has suffered a string of bad PR thanks to a series of high-profile cases of players engaging in violence off the field. These reports cast a bad light on the entire league, and Commissioner Roger Goodell has begun taking strong action at the very hint of a scandal. In this case, however, Dallas fans weren’t the only ones complaining about the suspension.
One of the lead investigators in the case has gone on record saying Elliott didn’t deserve to be suspended for six games. According to the league, Goodell knew the investigator, Kia Roberts, objected to the suspension before it was decided. An appeal filed by the player’s representation that aims to block the suspension argues otherwise.
All of that will likely be hashed out as an arbitrator between the league and the player’s representation determine how the case will progress going forward. If the arbitrator decides in Elliott’s favor, he may be cleared to play in the season opener against bitter division rival New York Giants.
This may not end the public relations issue for Elliott, who’s been accused of using “physical force” against his girlfriend, Tiffany Thompson. And not only once. This may be a key factor in Elliott getting his reputation back, whether he wins or loses in court.
According to the letter sent to the player by the league, Elliott is being accused of using force three times in less than a week, resulting in injuries to Thompson’s face, neck, shoulders, arms, hands, wrists, hips and knees. Think about that. Sure, Dallas may be quick to forgive, but you can believe fans in New York and Philadelphia will be ready with signs and chatter — at games and online — saying Elliott is nothing but an abusive ex.
There is, arguably, no more brutal a division in football. The rivalries are long, and the enmity runs deep. These fans are known to be merciless, and, if Dallas lines up with a player behind the QB who has not been completely cleared of repeatedly abusing his ex-girlfriend, the PR pressure will be intense.
And that’s just the beginning of the pressure for Elliott. He’s coming off a stellar rookie season in which he led the league in rushing yards, and expectations could not be higher for his sophomore season.
Now, there’s a dark cloud over the player, even if the arbitrator decides in his favor.
Ronn Torossian is CEO of 5WPR.