Dadgum life. Keeps intruding on our plans.
You might have been treated here to an essay on Tyrone Crawford, a warm and fuzzy Cowboys comeback story. Back from a torn Achilles, back from two rotator cuff injuries, back from a training camp ankle injury he thought would end his season but instead cost him no games and just two starts. Back to be elected a captain. A leader of an improving defense. Still going to do that story soon.
You could have read about how Jason Witten has made an exhaustive study of the tight end position through history. How he is prepared to persuade you who the greatest ever have been and who he sees as his historical competition. Definitely gonna do that story.
Those were some of the plans, until life snickered again. Life decided that Monday night a judge would rule that Ezekiel Elliot's suspension would be reinstated. But she also gave Elliott's legal team 24 hours to file an appeal, which they did Tuesday afternoon, and you have to have passed the bar in three states to know how many courts might still have jurisdiction on appeals, so maybe he'll play this week and maybe he won't and OHPLEASECANSOMEONEJUSTMAKEITSTOP?!?!!
And those are just *our *plans. Elliott and his teammates and coaches made plans too. Lots of stuff happens when you're planning. Right now, Cowboys Nation is just abuzz with what Zeke should do and what the Cowboys should do and what it all means. While, sadly, a lot of this is driven by what will happen to your fantasy team, it feels from here like there are at least three points that are being distorted or missed. So although it's not what we were all planning, let's dip a toe.
- ZEKE SHOULD TAKE THE SUSPENSION AND DROP THE APPEAL BECAUSE EVERYONE IS JUST SICK OF THIS. Everyone is just sick of this, that's for sure. Oh, maybe not the lawyers. But you, me, teammates, the owners, everyone else. And this argument makes great sense – be available at the end of the season, don't let it hang over everyone's head into next year – unless you're Ezekiel Elliott. Forget the money, and this will cost him at least a couple million dollars right away. Forget the missed games, which even a win in appeal wouldn't get him back. If Elliott believes in HIS heart – not yours, his – that he did nothing wrong, how can he not fight all the way to whatever the end is? The damage to his reputation may already be irreparable. I don't know what he really did. You don't know. Two people on earth know. He's got one life and one name. If he believes he's innocent, he has to fight, whether we like it or not.
- WHAT'S THE POINT?It says here we have long since lost the point. WE have. The point of the suspension *in theory *was to have been a way to make a stand on the issue of domestic violence. You can call it sour grapes or selective memory or shortsightedness or whatever you like, but Jerry Jones was almost certainly on the mark with his Tuesday broadcast comments on the Cowboys' flagship radio station: Elliott is caught in a horrible course correction from the NFL mishandling of domestic violence cases back to Ray Rice. After appearing not to care seriously about the issue or its alleged victims, the league stepped on its shoelaces another time or two and then decided to put its foot down. We don't have to re-litigate the case here to illustrate the point: This is supposed to be about domestic violence. Witten and Brandon Carr and the mayor of Dallas, Mike Rawlings, and countless others have devoted Human Resources to fighting domestic violence. This whole Elliott-in-court and the league filing appeals and the NFLPA appealing the appeals, that's got nothing to do with ending domestic violence. It's just about winning. Winning the court case, scoring points against the opposition, brag and drain their resources. That's all we're doing now. And that's part of the process and everyone understands that. But could we get back to the point, please? Is anyone concerned about real people and fixing this problem, not getting court wins?
Of course, both Elliott's and the NFLPA's folks would tell you this is also about the integrity of the system. Zeke did not get a fair hearing. Yes, he did, and anyway the union agreed to the system and the league has a responsibility to maintain it.
And that gets us to third point, which is going to be with us for awhile:
3) THE PLAYERS HAVE TO DECIDE WHAT THEY'LL FIGHT FOR.If Elliott's factual case – not the suspension and appeals process, the he said-she said summary of events – if that case were being fought in a court of law, a lot would have been different. Rules of evidence and witnesses would have applied. Facing an accuser becomes a whole different matter. But that's not what this was. That's what many fans are struggling with. The hearing wasn't fair? The investigator wasn't questioned? All the evidence wasn't weighed equally? That's tough. The union is arguing the process was unfair. The league is arguing that's not the point. The process is what you agreed to, and if the court is interested in the rule of law, it has to uphold that. So goes the argument.
Here comes the real problem in the big picture, post-Zeke: If the players, not the union, the PLAYERS, which should be the same thing but often isn't, want to change this system, they can, in the next Collective Bargaining Agreement. The question is, what's it worth? Right now, to many players and some fans, the game seems rigged. But when it comes time to make a deal, and the owners say (and I'm making all this up), "Well, if you want us to give up control of the way we run part of our business, we can talk about that. So we'd like 18 regular-season games and we'd like to pay out less of our profit percentage to you and we're going to raise TV rights fees but not your cut and we'd like it to be an extra year before you're eligible for free agency, so five total or a sixth for a first round pick." When they say that, will players be willing to sit? Will players, 95 percent of whom will never face that unfair disciplinary process, be willing to not play games, to give up a year of service and paychecks, to correct a flawed system? Because that's what it's going to take.
And that's real life.