The Dallas Cowboys running back known to support The Salvation Army and other nonprofits, and for whom an East Dallas apartment complex is named, Ezekiel Elliott, a.k.a. Zeke, is off the team.
The two-time NFL rushing champ, statistically one of the best running backs in franchise history, was officially released Wednesday.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, a Park Cities resident, said in a statement that Zeke’s “impact and influence is seared into the Cowboys franchise in a very special and indelible way.”
The 27-year-old’s mark is seared into East Dallas by way of the orange and white apartment community on Easton Road, rebranded The Zeke during a summer 2017 remodel of The Grove apartments, when the development was purchased by S2 Capital.
At that time the rookie was under investigation related to a litany of domestic abuse allegations, charges that did not stick. More amusing to local sports pundits was the idea that an apartment building was named for a guy who hadn’t yet competed in an NFL game.
Sportscaster and Lake Highlands resident Matt Mosley, when we asked his opinion, said, “naming an apartment after a tailback who hadn’t played a down is silly in the first place.”
It’s also tough to forget that one video of the Ohio State alum tugging down a woman’s camisole top and exposing her breast at the Greenville Avenue St. Pat’s parade a few years ago, an incident that made national headlines.
The Cowboys fourth-overall pick in 2016, Elliott joined quarterback Dak Prescott, and represented hope for a despairing team (aren’t we always). Like many a Cowboy prospect, he brought baggage, but he was a charismatic champ from a lineage of pro athletes, a star who leapt defenders in a single bound, ran at lightning speed for substantial yardage and did that funny “feed me” bit.
Upon his departure — which, according to a press announcement, is rooted in the team’s need to maneuver its salary cap —Elliot is ranked third on the Cowboys all all-time rushing yards list, behind only Tony Dorsett and Emmitt Smith.
Elliott’s charity work off the field was impactful as well.
He volunteered with The Salvation Army and For Oak Cliff, a neighborhood nonprofit that hosts food drives, GED courses and works to improve neighborhood parks and camps. In 2021 he donned green For Oak Cliff cleats at a game against the Saints.
Jones said in a statement that the decision to release Elliott — whose next NFL team will be only his second — was “mutually agreed” upon.
“He will be able to experience free agency, and we can increase our flexibility and options as well,” Jones said.
He added that letting go of significant players is one of the toughest parts of operating a team.
“Moments like this come, and extremely difficult decisions and choices — for me, personally, the franchise, the players too — are made,” Jones said. “We will always have a special place and love for Zeke and what he means to our Cowboys family, both as a person and a player. That will never change.”