Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones gave a definitive answer when asked about a more-than-year-long investigation into domestic violence allegations made against Ezekiel Elliott.
“I’ve reviewed everything and there is absolutely nothing -- not one thing -- that has anything to do with domestic violence,” he said. “I really don’t want to answer any more [than that].”
And that’s about where the definitive answers ended on a sunny morning in Oxnard, California.
Jones wouldn’t offer any speculation on a possible suspension for Elliott, nine days after an ESPN report that punishment could be handed down soon stemming from that alleged incident.
“I don’t want to in any way speculate,” he said. “I don’t want anything I’ve said over the last week to be interpreted as a feeling or a speculation about his status relative to a suspension.”
Jerry Jones is Mr. Misdirection.— Mike Leslie (@MikeLeslieWFAA) July 23, 2017
It took just over 18-and-a-half minutes for the Cowboys brass to be asked a question regarding football during the annual “State of the Team” press conference. It seemed like 18-and-a-half minutes of the team’s leadership dodging more questions than Elliott did tackles on his way to an NFL-leading 1,631 rushing yards.
“I don’t want to get too deep into any particular player,” head coach Jason Garrett said when asked whether Elliott’s decision-making is sub-par. “What we try to do is create the right environment and the right structure for our players to make good decisions. We have 90 guys on our team, sometimes they don’t make the right decisions.”
Among those 90 players are Damien Wilson, who was arrested for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon at a Fourth of July celebration in Frisco, Nolan Carroll, who was arrested for DWI in May, and David Irving, who faces a four-game suspension for performance-enhancing drugs.
The Jones-Garrett triumvirate mentioned none of those players by name, of course, but didn’t ignore the possibility that some guys may not be available come the start of the season Sept. 10.
“Ability is certainly a big thing when we look at being with a player as a part of our organization,” Jerry Jones said. “Availability becomes a key issue too when evaluating a player.”
“In order to build a championship team, you have to build a great front line, but you have to build a great roster from 1 to 53,” Garrett said. “Part of this game is the ability to handle adversity, and a big part of adversity in this league is having a guy taken off the field.”
Jerry Jones said it flat out, and this is the tenet that rules all: "It's been my experience that the risk is worth the potential reward."— Mike Leslie (@MikeLeslieWFAA) July 23, 2017
And what could become the go-to line for behavioral missteps: “Accountability does not mean infallibility.”
It was emphasized time and time again during the nearly 50-minute press conference: Players make mistakes, but those players will be held accountable for their mistakes.
After an offseason with more mistakes than usual, we can only wait to see what the accountability ends up looking like.
So, what did it all boil down to Sunday?
“I think I’ve heard the same press conference 29 times,” veteran WFAA sports anchor Dale Hansen told me in a Facebook Live chat. Jones, of course, has delivered 29 such press conference as owner of the Cowboys since 1989.
But hey, if you’ve made it this far, you’ve read over 500 words about the 29th iteration of that press conference…
A sure sign that football is back in Oxnard.