El­liott pon­ders his next move

Sus­pended Cow­boy might be best served by ac­cept­ing penalty

The Dallas Morning News - - Sports Day - DAVID MOORE dmoore@dal­las­news.com

LOS AN­GE­LES — One day after Ezekiel El­liott and the Cow­boys had their world rocked by a six-game sus­pen­sion they didn’t see com­ing, the vol­ume on out­rage and blus­ter was turned down.

No more re­crim­i­na­tions were hurled at the NFL of­fice. Vows of fight­ing the com­mis­sioner’s de­ci­sion, of tak­ing this to the mat­tresses, were ab­sent. El­liott him­self ca­su­ally stood on the side­lines in his Cow­boys uni­form wear­ing a blue vi­sor Satur­day evening, watch­ing his team­mates face the Los An­ge­les Rams.

Owner Jerry Jones was silent.

It’s too early to know if this is the calm be­fore the storm. But now that ev­ery­one has got­ten over the shock and raw emo­tion of Fri­day, it’s time for a more strate­gic con­ver­sa­tion.

El­liott and his rep­re­sen­ta­tives will file an ap­peal be­fore the end of busi­ness day Wed­nes­day. The league’s lead­ing rusher then has two ways to play this going for­ward.

He can dig in and refuse to ac­cept the de­ci­sion, fil­ing an

in­junc­tion the way New Eng­land’s Tom Brady did after his sus­pen­sion. That would al­low El­liott to stay on the field for the Cow­boys as the case winds its way through the courts.

Or he can go on a con­tri­tion tour lead­ing up to his ap­peal hear­ing in an at­tempt to re­duce the pun­ish­ment. El­liott can ac­cept what­ever Roger Good­ell de­cides, serve the sus­pen­sion to open the season and put this ugly episode be­hind him.

This op­tion seems out of char­ac­ter for the young star. But an ar­gu­ment can be made it’s in the best in­ter­est of El­liott and the Cow­boys.

El­liott made it clear in a state­ment he tweeted after the rul­ing that he strongly dis­agrees with the NFL’s de­ci­sion. But he also ac­knowl­edged the dis­trac­tion and dis­rup­tion this has be­come for team­mates and the Cow­boys or­ga­ni­za­tion.

“I ad­mit that I am far from per­fect, but I plan to con­tinue to work very hard, on and off the field, to ma­ture and earn the great opportunity that I have been given,’’ his state­ment read.

Once the league’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion con­cluded that phys­i­cal abuse had taken place be­tween El­liott and Tif­fany Thomp­son, a six-game sus­pen­sion was in place. It re­mained at six games be­cause Good­ell found no mit­i­gat­ing cir­cum­stances to lower it.

If El­liott gen­uinely ex­presses the at­ti­tude he dis­played on Twit­ter dur­ing his ap­peal, it could mit­i­gate or lower his sus­pen­sion.

De­spite what many fans feel, the league is not out to get El­liott any more than it was Brady. The ran­cor sur­round­ing these ac­tions isn’t good for any of the par­ties in­volved. But if you’re some­how con­vinced the NFL wants to pile on El­liott and the Cow­boys, con­sider this:

Brian McCarthy, vice pres­i­dent of com­mu­ni­ca­tion, said Satur­day that the league’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion into El­liott’s al­leged in­volve­ment in a July 16 bar fight is closed. This is sig­nif­i­cant be­cause a let­ter sent to the run­ning back after his sus­pen­sion states he “must have no fur­ther ad­verse in­volve­ment with law en­force­ment, and must not com­mit any ad­di­tional vi­o­la­tions of league poli­cies.” The let­ter out­lines that an ad­di­tional vi­o­la­tion “of this na­ture may re­sult in your sus­pen­sion or po­ten­tial ban­ish­ment from the NFL.”

No longer hav­ing this hang over El­liott’s head could, even if it’s in a small way, im­prove the dy­nam­ics of his deal­ings with the league of­fice.

El­liott’s rep­re­sen­ta­tives have said the NFL’s find­ings are “re­plete with fac­tual in­ac­cu­ra­cies and er­ro­neous con­clu­sions.” They vowed to present “a slew of ad­di­tional cred­i­ble and con­tro­vert­ing ev­i­dence” in the com­ing weeks to make their case.

But again, how far will they push it? Brady’s saga un­folded over 14 months. El­liott’s has al­ready been going on for 13 months.

Is it in any­one’s best in­ter­est to ex­tend it with an in­junc­tion through the rest of this year and po­ten­tially be­yond? Catch David Moore on The Ticket (KTCK-AM 1310 and 96.7 FM) with The Musers at 9:35 a.m. and The Hard­line at 3:55 p .m. ev­ery Mon­day through Fri­day dur­ing train­ing camp.

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