The book on Ezekiel, from the Book of Ezekiel:
And from the midst of (the fiery cloud) came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance: they had a human likeness, but each had four faces …
And so it is with Zeke Elliott, the man-child whose public and private personas take on multiple visages depending on the situation.
There is Ezekiel the Dallas Cowboys tailback, a spectacular and terrifying sight to behold, like a raging bull in full charge.
Their legs were straight, and the soles of their feet were like the sole of a calf’s foot. And they sparkled like burnished bronze.
More like Cowboys’ silver, but whatever.
And the living creatures darted to and fro, like the appearance of a flash of lightning.
I have witnessed nearly two dozen running backs gallop hither and yon for Ohio State the past 20 seasons, and Elliott was better than most — maybe best of all. His burst was beauty, his blocking exceptional and his pass-catching superb. Drafted by Dallas in 2016, he quickly became one of the best tailbacks in the NFL.
As Ohio State coach Urban Meyer might say, on the field Elliott is “a grown-ass man.”
But there also is Elliott the 22-year-old adolescent, whose arrested development at times can seem cute, like when he hopped into a huge red Salvation Army kettle after scoring a touchdown last season. But some of the impishness raises red flags, like when he pulled down a woman’s shirt in public at a St. Patrick’s Day party in Dallas. One need not be a prude to deem such shenanigans unacceptable behavior.
I have heard things. Not horrible things — more insider observations about Elliott that arch the eyebrows. Questions about his maturity level. About how at times he came off like a middle-schooler. About how he is a people pleaser, to a fault.
Then there is the third face of Elliott, the emotional roller coaster. Jazzed with excitement one minute, bottomed out in disappointment the next. Remember, for example, his comments after OSU’s 2015 loss to Michigan State, when he ripped the play-calling and questioned the coaching while also telling reporters he would not return for his senior season.
Was he being honest? Yes. Were his accusations so out of character as to be dismissed as mere frustration in the moment, as Meyer and many others concluded? Maybe. Or …
Finally, we arrive at the fourth face of Elliott. It is not a bright and shining countenance.
And there were written on (the scroll) words of lamentation and mourning and woe.
On Friday, the NFL suspended Elliott six games for violating the league’s personal conduct policy. He is expected to appeal, according to an ESPN report. The punishment follows an investigation that began more than a year ago involving Elliott and an ex-girlfriend, who accused him of domestic violence in Columbus.
NFL officials said in a statement that it analyzed text messages, interviewed multiple witnesses and retained medical and legal experts to help commissioner Roger Goodell make his decision.
In a letter to Elliott, the NFL said medical and legal experts “were of the view that there is substantial and persuasive evidence supporting a finding that (Elliott) engaged in physical violence” multiple times in July 2016.
If true, this face of Elliott proves to be a most grievous and violent manifestation, one that belies the fun-loving frontage regularly on display at Ohio State.
No one is perfect. We all wear different faces. It is not against the law to be smiling one minute and angry the next. It is the where, when and how of our personality changes that matter.
My experiences with Elliott have been positive. I mostly like what I have seen. It is the unseen that concerns me.