Ezekiel Elliott was born into a sports family. His mother and father both representing the University of Missouri as athletes. Rather than become a Missouri Tiger, he chose to play college football for Ohio State. In 2016, the Dallas Cowboys drafted Elliot in the first round with the No. 4 pick overall.
The young star became the starting running back entering his rookie season. Then, Elliot surprised everyone by finishing the 2016 season as the NFL’s top rusher with 1,631 yards. But perhaps his biggest surprise of all came at Christmas of 2016 when he surprised his offensive line with gifts.
Ezekiel Elliott’s rookie season
All eyes were on Elliott as he took the field with the rest of the Dallas offense against the Giants to kick off the 2016 season. As the starting running back, Elliott, having beat out veterans Alfred Morris and Darren McFadden, carried the ball 20 times for 51 yards and scored his first NFL touchdown.
In the second game of the season, Elliot ran for 83 yards on 21 carries and scored his second NFL touchdown. He fumbled the ball twice in that game with one resulting in a turnover. Week three saw continued improvement as Elliott rushed for over 100 yards for the first time in his NFL career with 140 yards on 30 carries against the Chicago Bears.
Elliott had really hit his stride by the ninth game of the season, continuing to accrue 100 rushing yard games and became only the second Dallas Cowboy rookie to hit the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the season besides Tony Dorsett.
He is also the third running back to reach 1,000 yards in nine games along with Adrian Peterson and Eric Dickerson. Elliott finished the 2016 regular season as the NFL’s top rusher with 1,631 yards and a Pro Bowl selection bid as a First-team All-Pro.
Rolling in green
Perhaps Elliott’s best surprise came just before Christmas 2016. He recognized his offensive line with a line of John Deere Crossover Utility Vehicles outside Cowboys headquarters in Frisco, Texas. Elliott said, “This is the best O-line in football; they deserve the best gifts” as an acknowledgment that his success was directly tied to their efforts on the field.
Elliot’s gesture was generous as each UTV likely cost just over $16,000. But if the linemen keep clearing the way, Elliot is sure to have many more rushing titles to his name. After presenting his gift, it was time to have some fun. Of course, Elliott got one for himself, too. They all spent some time driving them around the stadium.
Offensive linemen receiving gifts is nothing new. After the 2007-08 season, Tom Brady gave an Audi Q7 SUV to each of the Patriots offensive linemen. Reggie Bush gave his Miami Dolphins linemen Segway scooters in 2011. And Arian Foster copied this in Houston the following year.
Eddie George of the Tennessee Titans gave his offensive linemen 4-wheelers and Adrian Peterson gave personalized snowmobiles to his Minnesota Viking offensive line in 2013, the same year he was named league MVP and rushed for 2,097 yards.
It’s no secret that the big money in the NFL goes to quarterbacks and running backs. It is admirable that they share the wealth with their offensive lineman as a way of recognizing them for their part in the success they enjoy. It’s also fun for fans to see these big men enjoying their gifts and having a little fun.