FRISCO, Texas – Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones said he believes Ezekiel Elliott is paying for the mistakes commissioner Roger Goodell made in dealing with the Ray Rice domestic violence situation in 2014.
“Zeke is a victim of an over-correction,” Jones said on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas.
On Monday, Elliott lost his bid for a preliminary injunction that would have stayed the NFL’s six-game suspension for violating the league’s personal conduct policy. As a result, he will not be on the field again until Dec. 17 against the Oakland Raiders, pending a potential appeal.
“His swing of judgment has been unbelievable from the Ray Rice thing [from] one or two games all the way up to a six-game suspension when you truly have got a debate,” Jones said. “Even this judge said it shows that very reasonably people could possibly come down on both sides of this. Well, under our legal system it has to be stronger than that for someone to have done it. Now, we all know we were not there to see it, but I do have every point of contention on both sides and in our system in this country, Zeke would not have any issue here as to his work place.
“With the knowledge that I have, the circumstances aren’t treating him fair. Two years ago this wouldn’t be an issue, before Ray Rice.”
Rice was initially suspended two games but was later suspended indefinitely when a video of the incident emerged. Jones contends the league’s change in stance when it came to Elliott was to appeal to the mbades.
“They swung from where this, two years ago by the same collective bargaining agreement, in my mind, [Elliott] would be playing,” Jones said. “Now he goes to where he’s got the extreme penalty of six. Now there’s a bigger penalty. You can be suspended. But still this is the max … Anybody that has really looked at the facts of the case, has really looked at it, knows there was divisive and difference of opinion within the league itself.”
Lead investigator Kia Roberts, who was the only person in the league to interview the alleged victim, said she did not believe Elliott should be disciplined. In announcing the suspension in August, the NFL said it had persuasive evidence that Elliott was violent toward a former girlfriend in the summer of 2016. Columbus, Ohio, authorities did not press charges against Elliott because of inconsistent evidence.
Without Elliott, who has 690 yards on 164 carries and six touchdowns, the Cowboys will rely on Alfred Morris, Darren McFadden and Rod Smith.
“It’s fair to say this is a takeaway for the Cowboys,” Jones said. “That’s almost trite. On the other hand what kind of job have we done to prepare if you don’t have Zeke? It doesn’t have to be because of this. It could be because of injury, just to help make the point.
“You just get it done, but you try to get it done a different way. Make no mistake about it though, having a guy that with Zeke’s skills has given us a way to do our offense and construct an offense that is very effective. We’ve got to get it done a different way if we don’t have him.”
Jones wanted to make clear he was not condoning domestic violence by defending Elliott.
“If we have a player or we have somebody guilty of domestic violence, they shouldn’t play,” Jones said. “But this isn’t the case. In our society [Elliott’s] not guilty of that.”