My Opinion on the Ezekiel Elliot Issue

Nick Schwartz with Fox Sports states, “Dallas Cowboys superstar Ezekiel Elliott was captured on video exposing a woman’s breast to a crowd during a St. Patrick’s Day party in Dallas over the weekend. According to TMZ, Elliott’s camp said that the woman ‘wasn’t upset,’ but she could later be seen batting Elliott’s hand away when he attempted to expose her a second time.”

TMZ further reports, “We spoke with Elliott’s rep who told us the woman wasn’t upset … and actually hung out with Zeke and a group of friends after the parade ended.”

The Issue

The issue has been discussed on ESPN with hearty debate with rumors circulating that such behavior could cost Ezekiel Elliot his career (which I certainly hope does not happen) or prod further investigation by the NFL that is already investigating an incident related to Ezekial Elliot’s ex-girlfriend from Ohio State. To date, the NFL has remained silent on this specific incident.

First and foremost, no one should pull down a woman’s shirt and expose her breast. I think that is basic etiquette that most people could all reasonably agree no matter who you are and who you are not. Further, assuming no responsibility for the incident when the video is in circulation may perhaps be best met with silence if a disagreement exists with the public’s perception, even if such opinion is not in conformity with the two parties related to the incident.

However, regardless, I am sure Ezekiel Elliot’s mother will have a few cross words with him, and he is lucky that the girl did not press charges or was not “baiting” him (as this unfortunately routinely happens with public figures), and essentially forgave the incident of which, as a woman, I greatly respect.

However, another point worth mentioning is that Ezekiel Elliot and her continued to hang-out after the incident for the remainder of the evening, thereby adding a level of personalization to both of them that otherwise may not have existed before the incident transpired that does change perspectives in some cases.

Media Implications

However, if the media continues to spread the video and discuss the issue as if she should be upset, she very well may get upset based on others judgement of her for not getting upset. It takes a strong and confident women to be the bigger person during an unpleasant incident that can be unintentionally exasperated by people’s opinion, who relate only by surface perception of the facts at hand.

Further, the girl is not a public figure; however, Ezekiel Elliot is, but that threshold is not normally contagious by mere association.

It should be noted that private figures relate differently to media exposure than public figures, who are largely familiar with how the media operates which comes from experience. For young athletes such as Ezekiel Elliot, they are in a tough transitionary period where they relate more with private figure mentality while being exposed as a public figure.

For both transitory and private persons, such media exposure can feel more like an attack and an invasion of privacy when really such content is for discussion to occupy time slots, fuel meaningful debates, or otherwise. However, the choices media make towards what message and content they promote, does have the effective power to make or break public perception which can negatively influence groups based on subjective media’s interpretation.

Thus, if this incident upsets media channels as a disrespectful act (which not much debate exists in that category from an objective standpoint), the appropriate action of concern is to at the very least cease circulating pictures and/or videos related towards the incident and if it must be discussed, focus on the positive of the girl’s decision to not to make the incident into a legal or media fiasco. It is always interesting to hear of the political aspects of young athletes evaluated under the NFL’s code of conduct, but not at the expense of this girl having to re-live an awkward moment at best without at least giving her positive feedback (which in turn gives Zeke a break), in my opinion, which is just one of many.

However, it goes without saying, that no woman typically wants a picture of her breast circulated over the Internet or television screen (as she immediately covered herself and did not look in anyway to be supportive of her bosom being exposed). Nor, does someone want to hear that she should be upset repetitively.Naturally, if the girl was pressured to change her mind based on the opinion of others, it is not the respective content distributors who assume liability, but effectively Ezekiel Elliot, the Dallas Cowboys, and ultimately the NFL, which unfairly contributes to the circulatory cycle that largely, in my opinion, disregards the wishes of the girl and fails to recognize the positive message that a negative incident does not have to end with litigation and two persons can agree to handle it with effective communication and agreement that is not a world-wide spectacle.This is why this girl’s response such a positive change, a tear runs down my cheek…

Go Millennials!

Respecting the Girl’s Decision

I respect the girl’s decision 100% and would have initiated a similar trajectory plan. If such person had repeatedly attempted to pull my shirt down or I felt in danger,  I would have taken different action as I am sure this girl would have considered, but the key point is that was not the case, here. Naturally, in no way does this excuse Elliot’s behavior; however, perhaps the girl felt him worthy of a second chance as pressing the matter forward very well could have resulted in a quick-lived NFL career.

While some females could perhaps see this as a “golden ticket”, this girl chose not to judge a person by one incident, which should be applauded in an age of an overly-litigious judicial system when such incident was caught on camera and “deep pockets” existed to where pursuing the matter could have been financially advantageous.

NFL’s Considerations

However, the girl’s choice is largely distinguished as to whether Ezekiel Elliot’s will be penalized by the NFL for his conduct.

My two cents on the matter is that I would hope the NFL wouldn’t take action when the woman has not taken any action; however, this incident may be cited at least in caution pursuant to the already on-going investigation pending with perhaps applied empathy in mentoring and understanding that such transition periods for young athletes is not easy.

However, such discussion on ESPN has prompted good points regarding this incident that should be considered largely to the tune that when you play for the NFL, your actions, both on and off the field, are evaluated because they affect not only yourself, but your teammates, the NFL franchise, and others connected to a chain that is not always easily visible to the naked eye. Thus, even under the mentality of “punish the player not the team”,  a code of conduct exists to list the respective specifications deemed necessary as an agent of such organization for the preservation of the investment in the brand and/or franchise. However, the current “millennial prerogative” is simple: people fuck up – weigh the scales accordingly. 

Remember, the NFL’s code of conduct is largely set in place to effectively operate its business the most effectively in lieu of reality as it exists, as the mental health of its players off the field do relate to the game played on the field as well. The NFL is a business; it operates from revenues. If the code of conduct hurt revenues, it would not exist. Thus, you can connect the dots related towards its purpose.

Therefore, if you choose to be drafted by the NFL, such commitment involves not only an athlete’s performance on the field, but off the field as well. That is a large commitment that should not be taken lightly by prospective players who need to weigh such considerations upon signing if they are not prepared for that reality. However, with a universal shift such as this girl who can forgive an incident rather than use it for personal gain, the need for such strict conformities would not be as necessary to protecting the investment in a brand and/or franchise.

In empathy towards younger players such as Zeke, this freedom is a lot to give-up in its own right that some older veterans may forget. Asking a 21 year-old, who just turned the legal age to order a beer in a public establishment to adopt the mentality that normally comes with age, is not an overnight process and requires mentoring from those who have walked in such shoes to point out some of the obvious pitfalls that may not appear so obvious to persons getting acclimated for a life spent in the public domain.

However, Zeke and all draft picks should evaluate very carefully whether they are willing to make the necessary sacrifices that are required to be an athlete that do require restrained judgment in otherwise private matters of life. Athletes should be educated upon this code of conduct and the practical application of such that reflect the importance of not only your own image, but your team, and the NFL franchise set forth in their code of conduct. Thus, even under the mentality of “punish the player not the team”, the player is not the only one affected by his or her actions, which is a valid concern.

I can empathize with younger athletes who view the world from the mentality of a private figure that are not aware of responsibilities associated with being an athlete and in the public eye; sometimes, those who have been in the public eye for a pro-longed period of time forget what it is like not to be, but it certainly can feel like a loss of liberty because it effectively is. However, it is part of the trade-off of being a star-athlete and part of the NFL franchise, which is a choice each person must make for themselves.

Smartphone “Paparazzi” and Consent Issues

Indirectly, this issue brings up another point that largely concerns me that was made on ESPN that effectively all persons with a smartphone can become the paparazzi – the level of awareness one must have to be prudent out in public can become arduous. However, this logic is predominately supported as five year-old’s seem to tout a cellphone; however, where is the line drawn on private matters of life that enter the public domain by persons with a smart phone who capture the actions of others? Granted, this video was shot in a public setting, but it is an interesting topic for thought.

While the video does blur out the girls face and breast, the video in question still captured borderline-pornographic content that I would hope consent was obtained before such transmission was publicly disseminated. Paradoxically, it makes no logical sense for the girl to have given consent to the video being distributed if she was willing to dismiss the incident all together, but to me, this would make me the most upset regarding the incident. Chances are people at the parade’s eyes couldn’t focus fast enough before she corrected the issue, but pictures and videos can be watched, edited, and replayed over and over…

Further, to me, spreading that it is “okay” someone took such video with their smart phone and dispersed it to where the relevant media channels effectively re-published it, is the real covert secondary issue.

I, for one, would not be okay with that, but respect the girl for her decision because choosing not to make a big deal out of the situation is an applicable option as well.

In Closing

Unfortunately, the thought ‘of how it looks’,  is one of the largest burdens all public figures must bear. Until reformation to limit such content from being disseminated (which largely will require cooperation from many private businesses in various communication channels that most likely will not see eye to eye on the various issues surrounding such), the decisions you make coupled with the actions you take will inevitably make or break one’s career.

I personally hope to see Ezekiel Elliott play for the Dallas Cowboys, but this is where having a team to support and mentor one through this transition, while also being empathetic of what it feels like in this transition, is crucial as it can feel very alienating when you just do not understand what exactly is at stake from a younger perspective.

Who knows, maybe one day Ezekiel Elliot will be mentoring another young athlete and pointing to this incident as an example of what types of behaviors and situations to avoid, giving credit to a girl who chose not to make an issue a big deal.

However, I firmly support the girl’s decision 100% and think it is positive societal change verses negative. Unfortunately, in the industry, some public figures become moving targets of sorts that can potentially land on the radar; such is somewhat both the blessing and curse of a public figure: everyone knows who you are and people are watching…even when you do not, necessarily, want them too.

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