“UNDISPUTED” Cowboys release 3x Pro Bowl RB Ezekiel Elliott after seven seasons

The Cowboys released the running back this week after seven seasons with the team.

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) and Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) are all smiles as they’re interviewed by ESPN personality Erin Andrews following their NFC Wild Card win over the Seattle Seahawks at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, Saturday, January 5, 2019.(Tom Fox / Staff Photographer)

The two came into the league together nearly seven years ago, part of the same 2016 draft class that ushered in a new era. Elliott was the driving force that transformed the Cowboys from a 4-12 mess into a 13-3 team that nailed down the No. 1 seed. Prescott was his accomplice.

Those roles slowly changed. Prescott developed into the team’s offensive focal point while Elliott eased into a secondary role.

Now, their NFL paths diverge.
Prescott spoke about his emotions Thursday afternoon during an event to promote the upcoming Children’s Cancer Fund Gala. He’s one of only 10 players left on the team from his first season with the Cowboys and the lone member of that draft class still under contract.

“I really didn’t see this day coming,’’ Prescott said.

Right tackle La’el Collins, arguably the quarterback’s best friend on the team, was cut last year and is now in Cincinnati. Offensive coordinator Kellen Moore parted ways with the club a little more than six weeks ago and landed with the LA Chargers.

And now Elliott.

“A lot of men and people who were monumental in my growth, my growth as a man,’’ Prescott said. “It’s part of it. It’s part of the business.

“It makes you better, controlling those emotions, getting over that, understanding that we all will hang up the cleats one day. It all will come to an end. Whether it’s at the time we want it to, whether it’s at the place or the organization we want it to, that’s the reality.

“Getting old, I guess,’’ he continued. “It’s unfortunate. It sucks. But it’s part of it.

“Hate to see all of those guys go and us not win. That’s what will eat at me forever.’’

Troy Aikman was with Prescott at Thursday’s event. The two are honorary chairs of the gala that will take place on April 21 at the Hilton Anatole.

“I think they’re going to really miss one of their core players in that locker room,’’ Aikman said of Elliott. “I always felt when I was playing, there are guys you just don’t replace and they have a big impact, regardless of whatever they’re doing on the field with the continuity and the success of a football team.

“I really believe Zeke is one of those guys. I’m not alone. I think the Cowboys understand that as well.

“I think that’s what made this so gut-wrenching.’’

Ask Prescott.

“Zeke is a guy, man, he played this game, did everything about this game the right way,’’ Prescott said. “Had fun, did that, but when it was time to lock in and time to focus and give everything that you had and show your teammates and show the younger guys what really mattered and how to get things done, Zeke was a guy to follow. Just how to be a pro and how to be a pro with a smile on your face and enjoying this game, enjoying this life.

“I can’t imagine him not in the lockerroom.’’

Prescott has said repeatedly he wants to end his career with the Cowboys. But Elliott’s departure makes him realize he might blink and look up one day to find what he has here has faded over time.

It increases the sense of urgency.

It makes the departures of Collins, Moore and now Elliott all the more bittersweet.

“It’s tough to say it’s sweet right now, honestly,’’ Prescott said. “That’s what makes you play the way you do, the relationships you build within the organization, within your team, whether it’s with your coaches or whether it’s with your teammates.

“I know the sweet is coming. I know it’s coming. Very optimistic.

“Don’t get me wrong. Change is good. I’ve always said that. It’s tough for me to see it in this moment.

“But I know it’s coming and I’m excited for when it does.’’

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