The Ezekiel Elliott era is officially over in Dallas. And what a ride it was. The Dallas Cowboys parted ways with one of the greatest running backs in their history on Wednesday.
Zeke's release is classed as Post June 1st which means that the Cowboys will save over $11 Million on next year's salary cap.
He leaves the team third in all-time rushing yards, rushing touchdowns, and total touchdowns. Behind only Tony Dorsett and Emmitt Smith in both categories.
Elliott has played a pivotal part in the success of the Dak Prescott era and in the process became the most revered player in the Cowboys' locker room.
Fans watched as Zeke not only developed as a player but grew as an individual and a person.
He had a connection with fans that only the likes of Dez Bryant can boast of.
The Cowboys' offense literally ran through Ezekiel Elliott. Feed Zeke was the mantra as he ran for two NFL rushing titles and three pro bowls.
Regardless of your thoughts on his diminishing stat lines the last few years, there's no denying Elliott's impact on this franchise.
Let's take a look at some of his most memorable moments as a Dallas Cowboy.
The Salvation Army Red Kettle
Has there ever been a touchdown celebration so extensively loved than when Ezekiel Elliott jumped into the Salvation Army Kettle?
On December 18th, 2016, the Dallas Cowboys beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 26-20 at AT&T Stadium. During the game, Elliott celebrated the 13th rushing touchdown of his rookie season by leaping into the oversized Salvation Army Kettle.
The celebration went viral and the Salvation Army reported a 61% increase in donations. Many of the donations reportedly came in the form of $21.
The Cowboys were flagged for the celebration… of course. But it didn't stop the celebration from becoming a running theme for the Cowboys during the holiday season.
Over the years we have seen Zeke pick up and put Dak Prescott in the Kettle. Peyton Hendershot, Jake Ferguson, Dalton Shultz, and Sean McKeon play whack-a-mole in the kettle. And Zeke used the kettle as a jack-in-the-box with help from Dak Prescott.
All these celebrations drew national attention to the non-profit charity and they reported large increases in donations around the time of celebrations.
All this started because of Zeke's celebration in 2016. And that is only a small portion of his charitable work for the Salvation Army.
Zeke vs Pittsburgh
Ezekiel Elliott's rookie year was special. He showed that he was certainly worthy of the fourth overall pick.
His season was filled with highlight reel moments. But in week 10 on the road in Pittsburgh, Zeke showed why he was one of the league's most dynamic players.
In a come-from-behind victory, Zeke carried the load of the offense. He had 21 carries for 114 yards and two touchdowns. He also caught a screen pass from Dak Prescott and took it 83 yards to the house for his first career receiving touchdown.
As the clock was winding down at the end of the game, the Cowboys were trailing by a point. They were on the 32-yard line, with 14 seconds left and one timeout. The Cowboys called a run play to help get closer for a field goal attempt.
But, Zeke took matters into his own hands and burst through a small gap in the offensive line and exploded into the secondary.
His speed was on full display as he went all the way to the endzone securing the comeback win for the Cowboys.
It was arguably his best single-game performance of his incredible rookie season.
Second Rushing Title and 2018 season
After serving a suspension for six games in 2017, Zeke came back and won the NFL rushing championship for the second time.
He played in 15 games and rushed for 1,434 yards and six touchdowns in 2018.
Elliott rushed for 152 and 151 yards against Detroit and Philadelphia, respectively. Which were his third and fourth-best rushing games.
But more impressively, he became the first running back since 2003 to lead the team in receptions.
He caught 77 balls for 567 yards and three scores.
Ezekiel Elliott was the Dallas Cowboys' identity. And he continued his dominance into the playoffs when he went for 137 yards and a touchdown against Seattle in the wildcard round.
He was undoubtedly the best running back in football and he became beloved in Dallas after yet another fantastic season.
All the hurdles
One of the most impressive moments in football is watching a six-foot, 200-plus-pound man physically jump over another. And Ezekiel Elliott was the best at it.
Ezekiel Elliott was a physical runner. He ran into contact and fought for every yard. So, to counter his physicality, defenders started to go low to bring him down. And that's when Zeke embarrassed them.
Zeke channeled his inner high school hurdling days by leaping over defenders in open space with immaculate form.
There are too many great hurdles to narrow down to the best. However, going up and over Eagles Defensive Back Tre Sullivan comes to mind as one of his most impressive feats of athleticism.
Zeke will be missed.
Dak Prescott echoed all our feelings when he said “I'm Hurt.”
Thanks for the memories, Zeke.