As you've likely heard already, there are rumors floating over the last 24 hours about Ezekiel Elliott facing a minor suspension in 2017. While we at Inside The Star don't put much stock in the rumors at this time, it's out there and we need to take a look at it.
While nothing has come from the NFL or the Dallas Cowboys about Elliott missing games, those good ol' “sources” are citing Zeke's alleged domestic violence incident from 2016 as the basis for the suspension. The NFL has been investigating this matter for almost a year now with no reported updates.
The first ripples in the water started Thursday evening with this Tweet from actor and sports enthusiast Michael Rapaport, who does work with Barstool Sports and has appeared many times on podcasts and other media with “The Sports Guy” Bill Simmons.
Sources are telling Zeke Elliot getting suspended for weed & Melo trade is going down today.
— MichaelRapaport (@MichaelRapaport) July 13, 2017
While it appears Michael was wrong on both fronts, it's interesting that his tweet came just hours before the Elliott rumors really got cooking. How marijuana got into the picture is unknown, but perhaps the source heard about a Cowboys player being suspended and just assumed it would be weed-related. Given Dallas' recent history, that wouldn't be the worst guess.
Things really heated up when the rumors started being reported yesterday by ESPN's Adam Schefter and other more established NFL news breakers. Now domestic violence and the ongoing investigation entered the picture.
The NFL's domestic violence and personal conduct policies make this a much bigger concern than a drug suspension. Even without a court finding or filed charges, the NFL can still suspend a player if they simply believe something happened. We saw this happen with Greg Hardy just two years ago.
According to ESPN, Elliott is preparing for the worst. With how long things have dragged on, there's a sense that the NFL is desperate to pin something on one of the brightest stars from its most popular franchise. What better way to send a message:
“Here, watch us drop the hammer on a superstar running back. That makes up for what happened with the other running back a few years ago, right? Right?!”
To be fair, the NFL may have some form of evidence that will eventually have a lot of us eating crow. But it's hard to fathom why the league would just keep sitting on any concrete evidence about domestic violence. The only reason I can come up with is that they don't want to repeat the botched handling of Ray Rice, passing one sentence and then having to revise it when new information was made public.
Many Cowboys fans and analysts, including this site, are skeptical. One noted Cowboys reporter made it clear, with these and many other comments yesterday, how he feels:
— fishsports (@fishsports) July 14, 2017
— fishsports (@fishsports) July 14, 2017
As we all know, NFL media is desperate for things to report in the doldrums of early summer. While we're not saying that this Elliott story was totally manufactured, did something get blown way out of proportion in that hunger for content? Did a simple comment or speculation become “source” material?
The best thing to do right now, and really all we can do, is wait. Given all the smoke that's now been created, the league may be forced to conclude its investigation before the season starts in less than two months. They don't want to deal with the negative press of having still not resolved this.
What that resolution will mean for Ezekiel Elliott and the Dallas Cowboys is our concern at this moment, but let's be clear; we're giving Zeke benefit of the doubt right now. We're giving him the supportive assumption of innocence based on a current lack of evidence and the questionable credibility of his accuser.
If domestic violence is actually proven, and rumors turn into facts, then things change. But the NFL's poor handling of past issues, and the ever-desperate nature of NFL media during these summer months, make them the less believable parties at this time.