About the time Dallas Cowboys fans had completely forgotten Tony Romo’s name last season, a sideline video of Dak Prescott went viral.
The video showed the Cowboys rookie quarterback missing the trash can with a toss of a paper cup. A champion of the working man, Prescott got off the bench, picked up the cup and put it in the trash.
In most places, such a gesture would have gone unnoticed. In Cowboys Nation, it was really big news.
Millions of Cowboys fans shared the video on social media, using the video as proof that a team long known for shady characters had a truly good guy playing quarterback.
Prescott clearly was brought up the right way, raised by parents who taught him to care for the little people, like the janitor who has to pick up trash after the game.
Yes, the Cowboys have a quarterback with character. Not only is Dak Prescott the second coming of Roger Staubach, he is also the kind of guy every dad would love to see his daughter bring home.
I cannot help but think of that Prescott praise as I listen to those same Cowboys fans try to shift the blame after the NFL suspended running back Ezekiel Elliott six games because the league believes he likely — and on multiple occasions — hit, choked or pushed a woman.
I cannot help but think of Dak taking care of the trash on video when I read about a Texas judge granting Elliott an injunction that likely means that, despite the suspension, the running back will play the entire 2017 season.
Less than a year ago, this fan base ready to proclaim its quarterback was a deity who could bring sight to a blind man while walking on water because he picked up crumpled-up paper cup. Now it is looking the other way on domestic violence because Elliott averages 5.1 yards per carry.
As Buck Murdock might say, hypocrisy can be pretty hypocritical sometimes.
I know what you’re thinking. “He isn’t going to bash the Cowboys and their fans again, is he?”
Well, yes I am.
Back when Matt Vincent and I continuously slammed Montana Power CEO Bob Gannon for selling out his hometown and draining the nest eggs of so many former employees, my buddy Tim told me we were beating a dead horse.
Oh, he admired our persistence and he agreed with the sentiment of us mentioning Bob for about 50 straight columns, but he said it was time to let it go.
Well, some dead horses just need to be beaten, I said. Domestic violence is without a doubt one of those dead horses, even more so than Mr. Gannon.
Yes, Elliott was not charged for the alleged incidents by the police of Columbus, Ohio, where Elliott was a star running back for Ohio State.
The NFL, though, investigated the matter for more than a year, and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell decided that it was obvious that Elliott hit a woman on more than one occasion.
Sure, the NFL cannot seem to do anything right when it investigates matter of discipline. Remember, Ray Rice initially got two games for knocking his fiancé out with a left hook.
The commissioner, who says he only saw the video of the couple getting in and out of the elevator when he doled out the two games to Rice, apparently thought the running back knocked his fiancé out with a magical kiss inside the elevator before another video showed the whole story.
That Elliott got six games for what the in-depth NFL investigation uncovered should be an outrage, but not for the reasons Cowboys fans — and fantasy football geeks — argue.
It is an outrage because it is only six games.
Read up on the case just a little bit, and then tell me if you would want Elliott to date your daughter.
The important thing to remember in this case is that Elliott is accused of hitting, pushing and choking a woman up against a wall, and the NFL investigators sincerely believe he is guilty.
Sure, the alleged victim, who lied to the police on at least one occasion, is not the most reliable witness ever. That is oftentimes the case in domestic violence matters. That is part of the reason why so many wife beaters get away with it for so long.
Fans and media members seem to be focusing on the wrong thing in this case, and so many other cases involving athletes accused of domestic violence.
They worry about the process instead of the crime, and the Elliott case is not the only instance.
In the lead up to the Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor fight, hardly anybody mentioned the multiple occasions when Mayweather was charged with domestic violence. Writers rarely mentioned it. TV talking heads said little or nothing. Sports radio hosts were silent.
They also were largely mute about bigoted comments made by McGregor.
Instead of addressing the real story, they hyped up the biggest joke of a fight since Rocky Balboa took on Thunder Lips in an exhibition, and both fighters with highly questionable character walked away with millions.
When writers and broadcasters covering such athletes avoid the big issue, they are not only turning a blind eye to battered women. They are condoning their beatings.
While the NFL’s suspensions do not seem to be deterring the crime, public shaming could sure do the trick. At least it is worth a shot.
It would not stop domestic violence if media members constantly beat that dead horse, but it might make some of the younger athletes think twice about their behavior. Maybe our children will take notice of severe consequences for such despicable acts.
The same goes for the fans. Can you really cheer for a man who thinks it is OK to push around somebody’s daughter?
Can you look your daughter or granddaughter in the eye while wearing your No. 21 Cowboy’s jersey?
Will you encourage your son to be a fan of such a man?
Would you be OK if it was your baby girl who was the unreliable witness with bruises to prove she was abused by the running back?
Those are the questions we should be asking ourselves and each other as Elliott takes the field for all 16 games this season.
Any answer other than an emphatic “no” is pure trash that cannot be so easily picked up and thrown away.
— Bill Foley writes a column that appears Tuesday on ButteSports.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at twitter.com/Foles74