Former Cowboys quarterback and Pro Football Hall of Famer Troy Aikman isn't ready to declare no-harm, no-foul regarding running back Ezekiel Elliott's growing string of off-field incidents, no matter how the NFL rules on his potential punishment stemming from a domestic altercation last year.
And to be clear, Aikman — Fox's top NFL analyst — isn't buying the "mistakes of youth" defense.
"I think the guy, what little dealings I've had with him, I don't think he's — I'm careful how I say this — I don't think he's necessarily a bad guy," Aikman said on Lance Armstrong's podcast "The Forward" (via The Dallas Morning News). "But I also don't buy into, 'Well, he's 21 years old' or 'He's 22 years old' or however old he is or any other player in the NFL. That's old enough to know right from wrong and how to act.
"At 22, I knew, I'm not saying I always did the right thing, but I knew what [was] right and I knew how I was supposed to act. So you can't put it off on youth."
In addition to the domestic incident last year, Elliott appeared on video to grab a woman's breast during a St. Patrick's Day parade this spring and, as recently as six days before the Cowboys left for camp in California, he allegedly was involved in an altercation at a Dallas bar in which a man's nose was broken, The Morning News reported, citing an unidentified source.
Elliott thus far has avoided serious legal trouble, but the pattern is disconcerting, Aikman continued, especially considering that Elliott should know he's living his life under a microscope.
"He's coming from a big program at Ohio State where there was a lot of attention and a lot of focus on him there. This isn't new territory. It's not a small-school guy who all of a sudden is with the Dallas Cowboys and he's just not accustomed to that kind of attention.
"And it's a different time. There's no questions that if cell phones and cameras and all that were around when I was a rookie, it would've curtailed some of the fun that me and my buddies were able to have. But you have to adjust to the times. So far, at least, it doesn't seem he's been able to do that."
Listen to the entire Aikman interview on "The Forward" below: