Dallas Cowboys rookie phenom and 2016 league leading rusher Ezekiel Elliott, has given many in and out of football reason to worry about a controversial relationship between he and the public eye. At just 21 years of age, Elliott has become one of the NFL’s most recognizable faces, playing for the league’s most identifiable franchise, known as America’s team. However, the All-Pro running back has consistently demonstrated his inability to stay out of trouble, shedding light upon the notion that heightened levels of immaturity are often the byproduct of one’s fame at a young age.
With a beer in hand on St. Patrick’s Day, Elliott was seen at the parade in Dallas, revealing a woman’s bare breast when pulling down her shirt. What appeared to be an act of ignorance and disregard for his own image, it is now clear that Elliott is surrounded by red flags, with off-field antics that could very well serve a hindrance to his career if not addressed. Incidents prior have included a visit to a marijuana shop in Seattle and partying midseason between games with quarterback Dak Prescott, all three occurring while Elliott has and is still under investigation for domestic violence.e
Owner, president, and general manager Jerry Jones has been somewhat quiet, not yet disclosing possible ramifications and/or next steps following Elliott’s behavior. At the very least, Elliott should be fined for the parade incident alone. But is that really enough to alter the decisions made by a young athlete making millions of dollars as one of the league’s primary cornerstones? Comparable to Elliott is New York Giants superstar wideout Odell Beckham jr., and cornerback Josh Norman of the Washington Redskins to a much lesser degree, as both have experienced their fare share of the spotlight for the negative.
Arguably the best receiver in football, Beckham has been exposed mentally, with a short temper and need to “get in the face” of an opponent. Norman has also been known to antagonize the opposition, as controversial trash-talk has proven to at times, diminish his play. Famous for their 2015 scuffle at MetLife Stadium, Norman and Beckham have coupled their fame and superstar status with a reputation for the worse, putting the league on notice for any future reference. Once drafted, a player is obligated to meet a set standard with a conduct policy in place, which from this generation of talent, has been taken for granted.
Many have given Elliott a pass for his actions with the belief that he is still somewhat of a child at 21. Furthermore, there is an ideology in today’s NFL that exempts rookies from being held accountable. It is a sense that the word rookie is directly correlated with youth. That said, one should be expected to possess an arranged set of morals when taking on adulthood at 18.
Subjected to constant exposure from cameras and social media, Elliott is in danger of succumbing to an environment dictated by users, in large part due to his choosing. In just days past, Elliott was spotted partying at a Miami nightclub, on stage with rapper Meek Mill. This is only days after the St. Patrick’s day incident, further validating the negative scrutiny from Zeke’s critics, in that he has not yet met the NFL’s standard. Luckily for Zeke, those in the front office are familiar with addressing controversy and trouble, always with the intent of providing the highest level of help for players in need.
It all boils down to what measures Elliott wishes to help himself. Still awaiting an outcome from the domestic violence charge, Zeke should be wise enough to stay out of the spot light for a decent amount of time. The Cowboys need to get a handle on Elliott now, well aware of his vulnerability and what seems to be unwillingness to take responsibility for transgressions past and present.
Dallas has its best days ahead, especially offensively, with all of the requisite pieces and then some to win a Super Bowl in the near future, or possibly this next season. As he played for one of college football’s most renowned programs, under one of its most respected coaches in Urban Meyer, the former Ohio State Buckeye showed out in “Jerry World” as a champion, earning each and every buckeye leaf on his helmet. If to earn the same title as a Cowboy, Elliott must willingly confront his mistakes and/or wrongdoings with help, backing his word on and off the field. Expectations are elevated to a profound level when playing in Dallas, in that the mindset has and always will remain living up to that iconic star.
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