Ezekiel Elliot, who was preparing himself for a likely suspension for previous offenses, can bet the house that a suspension is heading his way after his latest incident. Zeke was allegedly involved in a bar fight late Sunday night. His timing couldn’t have been worse. This was the week Zeke was supposed to make a statement to the NFL about its ongoing domestic violence investigation. Although the investigation into Sunday’s incident is currently suspended, that doesn’t necessarily mean Zeke will not be punished.
In the wake of the most recent Cowboy drama, some critical questions demand answers. What is it about the Cowboys and suspensions? Does the blame fall on the coaching staff/front office? How about the team culture? While Dallas has shown no fear to acquire players with troubled pasts (Randy Gregory through the draft, and Greg Hardy through free agency, etc.), I think this Zeke incident reveals another question which demands answers. Why do Dallas Cowboy players react differently to success and failure than the rest of the league? How does wearing that famous star on their helmets affect their growth and development?
There is a reason Jerry Jones is up for a Hall of Fame Induction. It was just announced that the Dallas Cowboys were once again the #1 sports franchise in the world, valued at a little over 4 billion dollars. Cowboys’ Stadium is nicknamed “Jerry world” for good reason Its bright light can be seen from just about anywhere in the metroplex. While some sports fans cant even name the owner of their favorite team, Jerry Jones’ name comes up just as much as budding super stars Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliot.
The Dallas Cowboys have become a recognized brand worldwide. It wouldn’t be hyperbole to compare its influence to that of a Coca-Cola or a McDonalds. The influence of the Cowboys’ star is so powerful that people in remote villages and isolated countries can tell you what it stands for. The Cowboys possess the best training facility, the best stadium, and have employed some of the most prolific athletes in Football’s history. If you ask me, the other 31 teams should be grateful for the salary cap; because without it, Dallas could sign every superstar to a max contract and still have room to spare. Never underestimate how deep the pockets of Jerry Jones can truly go.
The Cowboys had more primetime games this past season than any other team in the league. In a season which would be considered a “down year” for NFL ratings, the Cowboys remained it’s lone bright spot. The Cowboys aren’t enticing just because they are popular, unlike many brands today. They are popular because they are enticing. The uniforms, the rich royal blue of the star and those iconic silver-green pants are designed to leave viewers star struck.
Yes, a majority of the attention the Cowboys receive is negative, but one thing is for sure, their names are in the mouths of their opponents more than any other name.
However, as seasons pile on top of one another one thing becomes regrettably obvious. That beloved star comes with a cost, and those who don’t know how to properly wear it are at risk of being destroyed by it.
The Cowboys (2014- 2016 seasons) have led the league in suspensions. Leading the next closest team (Baltimore) by 15+ games according to SportsDay. The total is 50 games lost due to suspension in 3 seasons alone. If you’re cringing now Cowboys nation, it gets worse. The statistics I just gave you are based off of individual players, not total number of instances. Dallas has had 15 suspensions through the 2014-2017 off-season. That is not including the potential Zeke suspension. Of course, leading the list of suspensions are usual suspects such as Rolando McClain and Randy Gregory.
Although some will the problem is because the Cowboys draft at-risk players defensively, there is more to it than that. Yes, Randy Gregory hasn’t worked out, and acquisition Rolando McClain had a pathetic stint in Dallas. However, the Cowboys believe in Demarcus Lawrence despite his troubled past , and after a little redirection, believe he will become a tremendous value pick.
The negative impact of the Dallas Cowboy brand isn’t that Dallas is “cursed” due to stardom. Its much more simple than that. The negative impact of the Cowboy brand is that its players names, regardless of significance, are known across households everywhere.
This is true for players such as Cole Beasley. While Beasley has played terrifically as of late, he is considerably more famous because he plays for the Dallas Cowboys. Cole Beasley attracted more attention from the casual NFL fan than players who had better statistical seasons. Don’t believe me? Jarvis Landry, and Michael Thomas both had more receptions this past season than Beasley. Thomas and Landry also averaged more receptions per game than Cole Beasley. Playing well for a famous franchise almost always attracts more attention than playing very well for a smaller franchise. That’s the advantage of playing in a bigger market.
Lets look at Ezekiel Elliot for a moment. He set the league on fire his rookie season. Fame is already a guarantee, and fortune seems a given. Everyone is watching him, and Zeke is well aware of it. Only one season in the league and he’s already the spark plug of a domestic violence investigation, a St. Patrick’s day incident, a controversial visit to a marijuana dispensatory, and a bar fight last weekend. The question that must be asked is “Does the platform that the Cowboy brand provides sometimes encourage players with troubled pasts to misbehave?”
In my opinion, yes. Does that mean the Cowboys should shoulder all the blame when a player strays away? Absolutely not. The Cowboys deserve the same amount of blame the other 31 teams receive. No more and no less. However, those who root for the ‘Boys need to be aware of the pros and cons their massive fan base provides.
Every Dallas Cowboy, whether its Zeke Elliot or Jason Witten feel the eyes of the entire sports world upon them every day. Sometimes those eyes influence their decisions. However, its up to the players to decide what kind of image they want to project to the ever watching world.
The Cowboy greats who correctly used their platforms are the ones who history will ultimately remember.
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