By Joe Yamulla || Opinion and Editorials Co-Editor
It shouldn’t come as a surprise, but the Dallas Cowboys’ star running back Ezekiel Elliott was suited up and played in the week one game against the New York Giants. For over a year, there has been an ongoing domestic violence investigation against the 22 year-old player. The situation is messy to say the least. Before he was even drafted, Elliott was facing numerous accusations of physical abuse and violence from a woman he had relations with named Tiffany Thompson. Elliott was never criminally charged during the case, but the Dallas Cowboys were aware of this well before they decided to pick him in the NFL Draft. In his first year with Dallas, Elliot hasn’t exactly been gleaming with innocence. On Saint Patrick’s Day, for example, he pulled down a woman’s shirt in front of a massive crowd, exposing her to countless eyes, news screens, and twitter feeds. Finally, the NFL made the decision to suspend Elliott for the first six games of this season. However, his suspension was blocked by a federal judge due to his belief that Elliott was never provided a fair hearing in court. Sunday night Elliott had a monster game, the crowd was roaring and the Cowboys were patting him on the back. I’m not sure how or why we become blinded to the horrible realities and seriousness of domestic abuse when someone wears an NFL uniform. Here’s something I’m certain about, seeing Elliott out there on the field was nothing to cheer about.
Rumors have been swirling about the legitimacy of Thompson’s claims against Elliott, putting her intentions with the running back into question. I really don’t know what happened, and repeatedly examining it would only lead to the inevitable frustrations of heresy. But there has been a pattern of instances in which the victim has called police or made legitimate calls for help after claiming she was abused in some way by Elliott. She even posted instagram pictures of her bruises. Elliott has been denying these accusations, but we should never brush this off as meaningless. A victim could certainly lie and lose credibility. But, a victim also could be extending a legitimate call for help, and it would be an immense failure on our part to ignore it because someone is a big talent on the field.
Let’s not forget there have been actions taken by Elliott that aren’t up for any debate, like when he exposed a woman on Saint Patrick’s Day. Plenty of people seem to forget that, or at least brush it aside. Ezekiel Elliott is just one example of this, but there are plenty of other players in professional sports, not just the NFL, who get away with domestic violence. Our sports-centered culture loves to look the other way when it is most convenient. Domestic violence in sports needs to be taken as seriously as performance enhancing drugs and gambling. Each is extremely detrimental to the integrity of sports in its own unique manner.
Maybe the accusations against Elliott are completely bogus. However, the point is that it is extremely dangerous to continuously give the benefit of the doubt. Any account of domestic violence carries some major gravity. Twenty years ago, we brushed aside Nicole Brown Simpson’s cries for help. I really hope the truth comes out about Ezekiel Elliott, but this is a situation that is bigger than football. Seeing him play on Sunday, in spite of every accusation made against him and instances like Saint Patrick’s Day, was extremely disappointing.
It’s perplexing that we still haven’t learned from our mistakes, and that we completely ignore possible cases of abuse.
Until this dispute has been settled, there is no place on the field for Ezekiel Elliott. However, there he was running all over the field, with thousands of fans cheering his name.
Senior Joe Yamulla is the Opinion and Editorials Co-Editor. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.