Jason Witten opened up about his teammate Ezekiel Elliott’s six-game ban for violating the league’s personal conduct policy on domestic violence.
It’s an issue that hits close to home for the Dallas Cowboys veteran tight end.
“I’m not privy to all the information that’s gone on over the last year,” Witten told the Forth Worth Star-Telegram. “I’d say this: there’s no place for a man to put his hand on a woman.
“Most of you know that that’s a situation that’s affected my family as a younger kid, so I put a lot of work and attention and have a platform to step out and speak on stopping domestic violence.”
The NFL handed down the punishment against the Cowboys second-year running back on Friday after the league said its investigators found “credible evidence” that Elliott used physical force on multiple occasions in July 2016 against his then girlfriend.
Elliott, 22, who was never arrested or charged with a crime in the case, said he was “both surprised and disappointed by the NFL’s decision” in a statement released via social media. He is expected to appeal the NFL’s ruling.
“Having said that, Zeke continues to work through it,” Witten told the Star-Telegram. “He’s talked about it. How many games and all that stuff? That’s not what you really deal with. He’s a teammate and just need to work through it with him and have this opportunity to grow from it. I think that’s what his purpose is right now.”
Witten, 35, who is entering his 15th season in the NFL (all with the Cowboys), started his charitable foundation (Jason Witten’s SCORE Foundation) seven years ago. The 10-time Pro Bowler’s foundation works to place full-time, trained mentors in battered women’s shelters throughout Texas.
He has also developed a domestic violence prevention program called “Coaching Boys Into Men” that works with local high schools in the Arlington, Texas area.
“Quite frankly, it’s uncomfortable even having the conversation right now,” Witten said in the interview published Sunday morning, “but you go through it, and (you’re) in a position to be a leader, and you continue to show the way and allow guys to grow, and I know that’s been a tough year on him.”
Elliott was part of a dynamic rookie duo – along with QB Dak Prescott – in Dallas last season that helped the Cowboys to a 13-3 record and the NFC East crown. He rushed for 1,631 yards and 15 TDs in his first season in the NFL.
Regardless of the outcome of the likely appeal, the former Ohio State star said he has some growing up to do.
“I admit that I am far from perfect, but I plan to continue to work very hard, on and off the field, to mature and earn the great opportunity that I have been given,” Elliott wrote in his statement.
In March, the Cowboys star was videotaped exposing a woman’s breast during a St. Patrick’s Day parade. He also allegedly punched a DJ in the face at a bar in Dallas last month. The NFL Network reported that neither of these two offseason incidents factored into the NFL’s decision on the six-game ban.