Ezekiel Elliott Penalized for Celebrating Touchdown by Promoting Salvation Army

Bryan Brandom
(Photo: Getty Images)

You know what to do when you see a red Salvation Army kettle with a helpful Santa Claus slowly deteriorating your eardrums with nonstop bell ringing—reach into your pockets or wallet and make a donation, no matter how small, to help the charity organization that is hoping to serve 58 million meals to the needy this year.

But what to do when you see a five-feet-tall red Salvation Army kettle?

You toss in a six-foot, 225-pound future Rookie of the Year running back—at least that's what Ezekiel Elliott did during his Dallas Cowboys' 26-20 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday night.

Seeing as Zeke was having fun while supporting an important cause and offending exactly zero people, he was hit with the biggest possible non-pass-interference penalty you can get—a 15-yarder for unsportsmanlike conduct.

And for that reason, it's not unreasonable to expect a fine, too. 

"I'm going to match whatever they fine me and donate it to the Salvation Army," Elliott said. Whatever Zeke—who rushed for 159 yards and caught for another 23—ends up donating will probably pale in comparison to the free publicity he garnered the charity, which is already capitalizing on the back's actions.

“He was actually talking about that pregame, should he do it, will they fine him,” quarterback Dak Prescott said after the win. “I didn’t know he was actually going to go down and come back up slow. Got a good laugh out of it, him coming up real slowly. It was funny.”

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones hopes the league looks to punish Elliott further.

"My dream is that the NFL would fine the daylights out of him, and I’m going to take them to the Supreme Court,” Jones said. “And we’re going to get the Salvation Army a lot of notice there.”

One member of the Cowboys organization who is less than enthused: head coach Jason Garrett.

"Well, he shouldn't have done it. I thought it was creative, but he shouldn't have done it," Garrett said. "You know that's how the league is going to rule on those things.

"You have to understand what's legal and what's not legal. You can jump into the stands in Green Bay, but you can't jump into a Salvation Army bucket in Dallas. You've got to be careful about snow angels. All of these different things that we do. So we have to be more mindful of that. I've got to coach that better."

Though he expressed remorse for upsetting Garrett, Elliott couldn't resist "the perfect celebration."

"I mean it's just sitting there right in the end zone, you know. It's the perfect celebration," Elliot said. "They're one of our biggest partners, so I had to show them a little bit of love."