California — Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones backed Ezekiel Elliott as the running back awaits possible discipline for an alleged domestic violence incident last July in Columbus, Ohio.
“I have reviewed everything, and there is absolutely nothing — not one thing — that had anything to do with domestic violence,” Jones said at the opening news conference of training camp in Oxnard, California.
Jones, however, would not delve into whether Elliott could still be suspended by the NFL under the personal conduct policy. A player does not need to be charged or found guilty under the law to be penalized by the league.
“My opinion is there’s not even an issue over he said, she said,” Jones said. “There’s not even an issue there.”
From the beginning, Jones has supported Elliott, who was accused by an ex-girlfriend of domestic violence. Elliott has proclaimed his innocence, and after the Cowboys’ season ended in January, he hoped for closure.
That might be coming soon, with the NFL finishing its investigation. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported recently that Elliott’s camp is bracing for a short suspension.
Last week, a source said that Elliott was involved in an incident at a Dallas bar that left a man with a nose injury. Dallas police have since suspended the investigation because they have not been able to locate the victim, and no witnesses have come forward.
Jones spoke with Elliott early last week, but coach Jason Garrett did not speak to him until Friday, when players reported to camp.
“I think Zeke’s a smart guy,” Garrett said. “Zeke understands what we’re talking about. Zeke understands what the standards are for our football team. I think he understands what he needs to do to reach those standards on and off the football field. We’ll continue to work with him, just like we will with all our players.”
The Cowboys arrived in California after an array of issues the past few weeks. Linebacker Damien Wilson was arrested on July 4 on charges of assault with a deadly weapon. David Irving, who has already been suspended the first four games of the season because of a violation of the NFL’s performance-enhancing drug policy, did not show up on reporting day Friday and is facing a fine from the team. Dez Bryant arrived late to the reporting day. Rookie cornerback Jourdan Lewis is not with the team, as he has a misdemeanor domestic violence court case set for Monday.
“I think at the end of the day, we all know as a league — we discuss this on the Competition Committee — that this dead period from the last day of minicamp/OTAs are over till you actually start training camp is a tough period for every club,” executive vice president Stephen Jones said. “Jerry told me when I was young, ‘An idol mind is the devil’s workshop,’ and so at the end of the day, we’d love to have these guys who are around and going to work every day, and those are some of the challenges because infallibility is a tough thing. There’s no such thing as perfect that I understand in terms of individuals. And so is it disappointing when a player makes a bad decision? Of course it is. It’s disappointing, but you have to deal with it. The players know they’re going to be held accountable, and they’ll have to work through whatever that situation is. We’ll have to do the same thing, and we’ll move forward from there.
“But there’s no question that this timeframe as we’ve all seen about what’s going on in other markets, all teams have this issue, and there’s something that we want to continue to look at and how we can do better in terms of helping our players and giving them more resources so that they will make better decisions in the future.”