Off-Field Scrutiny for Elliott

Thomas Dobbs, Reporter

Despite Ezekiel Elliott’s ‘13 talents as an athlete, his reputation has recently been damaged by a series of controversies.  From events at Ohio State to current disciplinary action by the NFL, Elliott’s athletic accomplishments may be overshadowed by his involvement in questionable off-field incidents. Reports of alleged bar fights, allegations of domestic violence, and other publicized incidents have characterized his time in the spotlight.  Regardless of the legality of his actions, his controversial behavior has left the Burroughs community conflicted.

Elliott’s most publicized controversy began in February 2016 when his ex-girlfriend accused him of domestic violence. While the details of the criminal investigation remain unknown, parts of the investigation have been made public. No charges were issued due to a lack of visible signs of injury after a paramedic examination and an absence of witnesses. In July 2016, however, the same ex-girlfriend once again accused Elliott of domestic violence, describing five separate occasions of violence including choking, beating, and being shoved against a wall. It is important to note that Elliott has maintained his innocence throughout those investigations, claiming that he has not been abusive.

While Elliott has never been criminally charged with domestic violence, the prosecutor released the following statement: “I personally believe that there were a series of interactions between Mr. Elliott and [his accuser] where violence occurred. However, I could not firmly conclude exactly what happened. Saying something happened versus having sufficient evidence to criminally charge someone are two completely different things.”  The NFL, a private organization, doesn’t officially need an illegal action to suspend a player.  The NFL concluded, contradictory to the legal situation, that disciplinary action was required.

On August 11th, 2017, the NFL decided to suspend Elliott for six games citing that “there has been no persuasive evidence presented on your (Ezekiel Elliott) behalf with respect to how the accuser’s obvious injuries were incurred other than conjecture.”  Elliott, in response, appealed the suspension several days later with the help of the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA).  The NFL and NFLPA argued back and forth in the courts until October 12th, when the 5th US Court of Appeals Panel in New Orleans upheld the suspension that sidelined Elliott until November 30th. The NFL announced that the suspension would be effective immediately. On October 17th, a federal judge granted Elliott a temporary restraining order on the appeal.  The suspension was executed and appealed two more times until Elliott withdrew his appeal and the NFLPA withdrew its lawsuit on November 19th.  The suspension lasted for the previously announced 6 weeks, until Week 16, the last regular-season game of the season for the Cowboys.

Although Elliott lost that legal battle, he and members of  Burroughs community are looking forward. Mr. Harris, Director of Diversity & Multicultural Education, described Elliott’s post-controversy mindset as “reflective.” Mr. Harris said “The media has caused Elliott to reflect on his own actions, and how to move forward.” While Elliott may have opened up questions about the nature of NFL suspensions, he is looking forward to next season with a positive attitude. Elliott told a reporter after his suspension, “It’s [suspension] all behind me, now all I can do is be the football player I am.”

Elliotts’ previous controversial actions at Ohio State and in the NFL may have stained his reputation, but he still has time to re-establish his public perception. Nobody can predict Elliott’s future actions, but regardless, the public persona he displays the remainder of his career in the NFL will expose his true character.