DALLAS — The NFL announced Wednesday Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott did not violate the league's personal conduct policy following his incident with a security guard in Las Vegas in May.
According to a statement released by the NFL, after a "comprehensive investigation," including a meeting with commissioner Roger Goodell, the league determined that no punitive measures were warranted.
This ruling is yet another offseason win for the Cowboys.
Typically after Dallas wins the NFC East or qualifies for the playoffs, there are predictions galore heaped upon them to repeat as division champions or go further in the playoffs. After playoff berths in 2007 and 2016, pundits were wondering if those seasons, where the postseason lasted until the divisional round, were merely the 1991 of this renaissance of Jerry Jones' ownership.
In 2009 and 2014 it was expected the Cowboys would find a way into the playoffs. Instead, in 2010 and 2015, the franchise quarterback found a way to break his collarbone in each season and the Cowboys faded to losing records in each of the respective years.
Take 2018. Dallas floundered to a 3-4 start heading into the bye week, where they made sweeping changes. The Cowboys deal a first-round pick away to the Oakland Raiders for receiver Amari Cooper. Newly hired offensive line coach Paul Alexander was out, and assistant offensive line coach Marc Colombo was in. The Cowboys turned it around all right: Fell flat on their faces 28-14 to the Tennessee Titans at home on Monday Night Football in Jason Witten's ESPN homecoming. The Cowboys rebounded from a 3-5 mark to a 10-6 finish with a NFC East title and a playoff win to boot.
This offseason, no one is picking the Cowboys. ESPN is taking the Eagles. CBS Sports is picking the Eagles. It was all a fluke in 2018, but don't tell Jaylon Smith that or tell Dak Prescott to lower his expectations.
So, there is no way for the Cowboys to read their own headlines or believe their own hype. That is a win.
Now comes the availability of corner locker players. Yes, defensive end Randy Gregory is still facing indefinite suspension, but with the club in its sixth consecutive offseason of having a defensive player facing suspension, it wouldn't feel like the offseason without it. Plus, Dallas won the NFC East three times in such seasons. No big deal.
The Cowboys wrapped up the contract extension with defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, which seemed like it was about to turn acrimonious. That's a win.
With Elliott's incident in Las Vegas, it seemed that this was going to be the incident that would compromise the Cowboys and force them to stumble out the gate. Instead, with Goodell seeking not to discipline Elliott, it means the two-time NFL rushing champion is scheduled to play all 16 games. There won't be any appeals; there won't be any drama. There won't be a suspension to take the wind out of the Cowboys' sails to start the season versus the New York Giants. It's all about football.
Even though the Cowboys are the most profitable, most recognizable sports franchise in the world, since Jason Garrett came back into the fold as offensive coordinator in 2007 and later head coach in 2010, when the club is doubted, when players avoid off-the-field incidents, when the focus is strictly on football, the results have been impressive.
It is this quiet of an offseason that the Cowboys need in order to do something not done since 2007: Qualify for consecutive postseason appearances. It could also be what they need to do something not achieved since 1996: Repeat as NFC East champions.
Yes, there is still ongoing chatter about cornerback Byron Jones' contract, Prescott's contract, Cooper's contract, Smith's contract, and even Elliott's contract. However, there are no sly whispers that there will be holdouts. It is all taking care of itself. In a way, that is a win as well.
While the Cowboys' record is still 0-0 like everyone else before training camp, having Elliott avoid disciplinary action is a big win for the organization and helps keep the focus on football when training camp opens in Oxnard, Calif., at the end of the July.
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