The running back was selected fourth overall in the 2016 NFL Draft by the Cowboys and became one of their keystone players for the seven seasons he played with the team.
However, Dallas released Elliott in March to preserve cap space, which was a difficult decision for the Cowboys’ front office. The Patriots picked up Elliott, and he now acts as the second running back to Rhamondre Stevenson.
Elliott will make his homecoming to AT&T Stadium on Sunday for the first time since his release.
Ezekiel Elliott Speaks About His Dallas Homecoming
Elliott discussed his return to AT&T Stadium, stating, “I’m looking forward to coming back and reuniting with the fans. Even though I’ll be in a different uniform, I think it will be a good experience.”
He also mentioned that, although he doesn’t know what to expect during the game since he will be on the other side of things this time, Dallas is home to him. Elliott says he may do a good job of hiding the emotions he knows he will feel during the game.
But he wants to be remembered for more than his on-field production during his time with the Cowboys, expressing, “I want my legacy to be also what I meant for the community,” specifically naming For Oak Cliff and the Salvation Army.
For Oak Cliff helps to empower the community and build equity with a wide range of programs. Elliott donated gear to For Oak Cliff and would visit to spend time with the kids there because he wanted to. He also used the My Cause My Cleats initiative to support and advocate for For Oak Cliff’s community work.
Many remember Elliott’s iconic jump into the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle in 2016. However, that iconic moment in time led to him building a closer relationship with the Salvation Army.
When Elliott signed his contract extension in 2019, he announced $100,000 would go toward The Salvation Army. But that was just one of the many donations he made to the organization throughout his career in Dallas.
Elliott spoke for the first time about his phone call with Jerry Jones regarding his release from the team.
“He told me what was going on, that it’s not something he wanted to do, but it was just part of business. There was minimum talks about coming back,” said Elliott.
In the wake of Elliott’s release, Tony Pollard became the team’s starting running back. Elliott and Pollard worked together for three seasons.
Elliott was asked about Pollard taking the team’s starting position, to which he responded he wasn’t surprised about Pollard’s production and was happy for his success, saying, “Ever since Tony (Pollard) got to Dallas, I knew what type of back he is.”
Patriots RB Ezekiel Elliott on Tony Pollard's production as lead back: "It doesn't surprise me at all. Ever since Tony got to Dallas, I knew what type of back he is." Happy for Pollard's success. "I wish him well." Little to say about with Cowboys. "Business is business."
— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) September 27, 2023
Elliott’s Former Teammates React to His Homecoming
Pollard had talked about Elliott well before this matchup, always giving him credit for teaching him a lot during his time in Dallas. But Pollard said he was very excited to see him on Sunday.
“That’s my brother at the end of the day, outside of football, outside of everything. We still communicate and keep in touch, so there’s be emotions, but we’re going out there to handle business,” said Pollard.
The running back said watching Elliott’s approach and preparation for the game helped him get to where he is now.
Earlier in the week, Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy mentioned that the team still talks about Elliott almost every week in the locker room because of what an impactful locker-room presence he was.
Pollard said those conversations are primarily “silly things” and “nothing too major” since Elliott always laughed and joked around.
Micah Parsons also spoke about Elliott, expressing the team still misses his presence in the locker room.
But Parsons is excited to possibly matchup against Elliott, stating, “I feel like Zeke’s coming for me because he keeps telling me he’s like, ‘You’re lucky I’m not out there. I really get you,’ so if there’s ever a matchup, I’m looking forward to it.”
Will the Cowboys Honor Elliott at the Game?
The Cowboys are notorious for honoring players upon their first return to AT&T Stadium.
Jones was asked if he would do something to welcome Elliott back to the stadium, to which he responded, “I don’t want to blow the surprise. That’s a good enough answer for you.”
A recent example included Tony Romo’s first CBS broadcast at AT&T Stadium since leaving football the season before.
Nice touch by the Cowboys. pic.twitter.com/7z3gVwLymb
— Kate Hairopoulos (@khairopoulos) November 5, 2017
He was honored with a “Welcome Home 9” banner on a platform above the end zone and a video that played on the jumbotron narrated by Jason Witten.
So, something will be done to honor the former Cowboys running back during Sunday’s game against the Patriots; we just don’t know what that will be yet.
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