Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott is ready to play. One of the best at his position in the league, he’ll be a major asset for America’s Team at a time when people need sports in a way they haven’t in years. He’s valuable enough to the Cowboys he managed to challenge owner Jerry Jones on his contract — and win. Even quarterback Dak Prescott hasn’t managed that feat just yet.
Yet his offseason went worse than most people might think. But almost none of it has anything to do with his performance on the field. Connecting the dots, a picture of a uniquely bizarre, stressful, very public string of disasters emerges. Here’s how Elliott went from one mess to another throughout 2020 so far.
How Ezekiel Elliott’s dog landed his owner in legal trouble
Elliott has three dogs. He has a pool. Being a millionaire NFL player, he pays others to take care of all the above. This time, according to TMZ, that formula spelled disaster.
The three dogs “ambushed” a hired cleaner — her word, the civil case is still pending — and bit her several times. She’s pushing for up to $1 million in compensation from Elliott. Police responded to the incident, but criminal charges were not filed at the time.
Elliott’s COVID-19 troubles
Back in April, when the COVID-19 pandemic was hitting horrifying heights around the country, Elliott and several teammates weren’t taking it particularly seriously. They spent a Friday night partying at Prescott’s house, celebrating his birthday. It was a disrespectful way to handle the news that millions were losing their jobs and, ending up in the hospital, or worse.
The results of this flagrant attitude towards the pandemic were as expected. Multiple members of the Cowboys tested positive by June. One Ezekiel Elliott was among the unlucky few, according to Sports Illustrated.
The pointed way EA Sports insulted Elliott
In less serious news, Elliott’s talents have had some shade thrown at them lately, too. An annoyed NFL fan edited his Wikipedia page, making it appear that he was traded to the Washington Redskins, Total Pro Sports reports. We’ll never know if it was a disgruntled Cowboys fan, or someone attempting to troll America’s Team.
That was probably related to his lowered estimation as an actual player, rather than his offseason foibles. The clearest way this manifested was in his lowered Madden score for this fall’s edition of the football simulation. His 92 overall rating puts him well below the top pick, Christian McCaffrey with a 99.
Has anything go well for Elliott in 2020?
There’s no way around it: 2020 has been disastrous for Elliott’s public image. Things weren’t all bad, though. Take, for example, the common reaction to his Madden score and general underestimation by some observers. ESPN’s morning show Get Up had a panel full of strong defenses almost universally calling for more respect to be put on Elliott’s name.
The RB also took it upon himself to stick to the sorts of local charity projects he usually does, despite the adversity this year. Elliot noticed that Texas became a hotspot for COVID-19 and sudden unemployment related to closures. A local KVUE news report shows footage of hundreds of food insecure people lining up for hours in Texas.
Elliott did his part in July, SB Nation reports. He put up the cash for 400,000 families to be fed. Elliott doesn’t plan to stop there, announcing that he’ll continue to work with the North Texas Food Bank in the near future. He had a rough go of it lately, but he’s coming up big where it counts.