Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Two Revelations In NFL's Coming 'Vegas Video' Probe Of Ezekiel Elliott

Mike Fisher
May 28, 2019 - 7:55 am

FRISCO (105.3 THE FAN) - If we work on the assumption that the NFL was always going to investigate the Vegas Video incident involving Ezekiel Elliott - and while others have dismissed its seriousness, we’ve reported from the start that would be the case - we can move on to a looming question: Forget what a Dallas Cowboys fan sees, or even what owner Jerry Jones sees, when they view the tape of the star running back in public at 3 a.m. in conflict with a female friend, then in conflict with a security guard, then in handcuffs courtesy of the Las Vegas Police Department.

“I don’t see that having any consequences for us,” Jones said last week when I asked him how he thought the NFL might interpret the video.

And that last part, the NFL's view, is really all that matters.Jones also noted, in an answer to another of my questions, “His status with us is not impacted ... He certainly has had a great offseason and great year. I think that'll speak for itself. His overall career at this point is (in) a really positive place.''

Elliott's behavioral touch-turn-to-gold spring can certainly be a consideration in NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s office as the league launches an official probe first noted by Yahoo’s Charles Robinson.

But as we explore the NFL office angle of this story, the Cowboys may be facing two great challenges in their defense of Elliott as it regards the possible violation of terms dictated as part of his reinstatement following a six-game suspension in 2017 due to "personal conduct'' issues.

Issue 1: What do commissioner Goodell's staff experts see on the video?

Again, it is immaterial what the Cowboys think of it. The eyeballs that matter belong to some of the same staffers who guided Goodell to handing down the six-game suspension, which was very much tied to alleged acts of physical abuse against an ex-girlfriend.

How do those people view Elliott's dealings with the woman in the video? Is that in any way "threatening'' behavior? Do the experts in domestic violence see issues or even hints here? Will those advisors -- who helped craft the punishment letter to Elliott that in part orders he "have no further adverse involvement with law enforcement.'' -- want Goodell to make sure that warning has teeth?

Yahoo Sports reports, "That previous case continues to be a source of resentment at the highest levels of the Cowboys franchise, largely due to the league’s sole interviewer of Elliott’s accuser having recommended no discipline after finding inconsistencies and credibility issues with the alleged victim’s statements,'' and notes, "That has led to significant irritation inside the Cowboys and with sources close to Elliott, who feel he he was unfairly suspended initially and now faces a continual microscope fueled by a previously flawed investigation.''

But Article 46 of the CBA allows Goodell to write the "law.'' And Elliott is simply obliged to obey it. "Resentment'' and "irritation'' are not cards that Elliott and the Cowboys can play. Indeed ...

Issue 2: What does commissioner Goodell's office think of Jones' bold "no consequences'' proclamations?

Jerry Jones is among the most powerful people not only in NFL, but well beyond sports.

We might theorize that when he told me, "I don’t see that having any consequences for us,” he might have done so in order to "guide'' the eventual finding. Or, maybe he did so having already armed himself with inside info from the NFL. Or ... he might have ruffled the feathers of league higher-ups who want the NFL's determinations about a player on a team to be announced by the NFL -- not by the team. And, obviously, they'd like to actually complete their investigation in a way that satisfies the personal-conduct policy, the league's sense of law and order, and public-relations optics, too.In short, it's one thing for COO Stephen Jones to answer my question by saying, "We have nothing but respect for Zeke.'' In the eyes of the NFL, it might be another thing entirely for Jerry to all but announce Elliott being cleared by an investigation before it's even gotten underway. Want "resentment'' and "irritation''? League officials might feel it toward the Cowboys just as much as the Cowboys feel it toward them. 

The NFL surely wishes the ever-verbose, ever-optimistic Jerry had simply gone off-brand and issued an emotionless "no comment.'' Meanwhile, the NFL investigation (Yahoo reports there is no definitive timeline on any outcomes for Elliott, beyond saying the league would “likely” review the incident prior to training camp) might result in nothing near "banishment'''; maybe a simple monetary fine will do. But Goodell and his lieutenants will make that determination. And some of those lieutenants are charged with using their expertise to detect violence and abuse. And others among those lieutenants don't want teams telling them what to do.