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…