ARLINGTON (105.3 THE FAN) – Ezekiel Elliott broke tackles… then broke his silence.
“I’m just happy I’m able to be with these guys for as long as it’s permitted and just not having to miss time and not being away from them,” said Elliott, the Dallas Cowboys star running back who has spent months embroiled in conflict with the NFL, but in Sunday night’s season opener, helped pound the visiting New York Giants 19-3 with his 104 yards rushing.
“It just feels good to be out here. It’s definitely been a tough last 14 months, and at times, it’s gotten so hard you start to lose faith,” Elliott said. “But just being able to come in and be with these boys every day has kept me focused and made me not give up. I keep going.”
The NFL’s domestic violence charge leveled against Elliott, and his so-far-successful fight to arrange court dates that quite likely will keep him on the field during the entirety of the season, are understandably the headline grabbers when it comes to his name.
“Your name being dragged through the mud,” Elliott said. “I mean, that’s tough.”
The 2016 NFL rushing champ might not ultimately win what he desires from the courts, which is the erasure of the commissioner’s six-game suspension and complete exoneration — though he certainly got help in that direction on Friday from Federal Judge Amos Mazzant’s granting of a permanent injunction. In the meantime, though, it’s easy to imagine the 22-year-old using an actual game as an escape from some harsh realities.
“I’ve kind of just stopped worrying about [the legal battle] because it’s really out of my hands at this point,” Elliott said. “I’m just really focused right now at being the running back I need to be for this team to be successful so we can accomplish what we want to. Just remain focused and keep playing at a high level.”
The Cowboys did that in this outing, ending a three-game losing streak against their NFC East rivals. It was an emotional release for many, including Dallas teammates who support and believe in their “brother.”
“I’m just relieved from the fact that I finally get a fair trial,” Elliott said. “I finally get a chance to prove my innocence.” And to prove, on the field, his excellence.