So much for the spirit of giving. Ezekiel Elliott has been fined for his Thanksgiving Day celebration involving the Salvation Army kettle that sits near the end zone at AT&T Stadium.
The Dallas Cowboys running back, who has previously used the kettle that appears before the charity’s annual donations drive for end zone celebrations, whipped out $21 and plopped it into the pot after a 16-yard touchdown run. He also “donated” his quarterback, Dak Prescott, to the cause later, helping him into the kettle at another point during the team’s win over the Redskins.
The NFL decided this weekend that Elliott should increase his giving — to $13,369, to be exact — for what was a second offense. (Prescott escaped with a warning.) Elliott’s not in the giving mood and plans to appeal the fine.
“I mean, I didn’t really expect a fine, really don’t care about the fine,” Elliott told reporters Wednesday. “It’s all for a good cause and we’re trying to bring awareness to the Salvation Army, and if the NFL doesn’t like that, then, I mean, that’s on them. I’ll pay their little fine.”
After the game, Elliott wasn’t exactly pleased with how the NFL chooses to regulate certain celebrations, even though fine money goes not to the NFL but to the NFL Player Care Foundation and the Gene Upshaw Players Association’s Players Assistance Trust.
“A lot of things they do define ridiculous. but that’s not really any of my business, not anything I can change,” he said. “So I’m just going to keep being focused on this season, focused on leading this team, focused on going out there and winning ballgames.”
Elliott went down this road with the league when he was a rookie two years ago, but that time the NFL chose not to look like a gigantic Grinch. He celebrated a touchdown by jumping into the kettle and, with video of the celebration played on endless loop and garnering nothing but acclaim, he was merely warned by the league. He donated $21,000 to the charity, but more important was the spike in donations that followed. By the midafternoon on the day after that game, the Salvation Army had taken in more than $180,000. Eric Smallwood, the president of the sponsorship evaluation firm Apex Marketing Group, told ESPN that the advertising exposure equivalent of Elliott’s celebration would have cost the Salvation Army approximately $4 million.
The NFL was wise enough that time to back off.
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