LOS ANGELES -- Two days after Ezekiel Elliott and the Cowboys had their world rocked by a six-game suspension they didn't see coming, the volume on outrage and bluster was turned down.
No more recriminations were hurled at the NFL office. Vows of fighting the commissioner's decision, of taking this to the mattresses, were absent. Elliott himself casually stood on the sidelines in his Cowboys uniform wearing a blue visor Saturday evening, watching his teammates face the Los Angeles Rams.
Owner Jerry Jones was silent.
It's too early to know if this is the calm before the storm. But now that everyone has gotten over the shock and raw emotion of Friday, it's time for a more strategic conversation.
Elliott and his representatives will file an appeal before the end of business day Wednesday. The league's leading rusher then has two ways to play this going forward.
He can dig in and refuse to accept the decision, filing an injunction the way New England's Tom Brady did after his suspension. That would allow Elliott to stay on the field for the Cowboys as the case winds its way through the courts.
Or he can go on a contrition tour leading up to his appeal hearing in an attempt to reduce the punishment. Elliott can accept whatever Roger Goodell decides, serve the suspension to open the season and put this ugly episode behind him.
This option seems out of character for the young star. But an argument can be made it's in the best interest of Elliott and the Cowboys.
Elliott made it clear in a statement he tweeted after the ruling that he strongly disagrees with the NFL's decision. But he also acknowledged the distraction and disruption this has become for teammates and the Cowboys organization.
"I admit that I am far from perfect, but I plan to continue to work very hard, on and off the field, to mature and earn the great opportunity that I have been given,'' his statement read.
Once the league's investigation concluded that physical abuse had taken place between Elliott and Tiffany Thompson, a six-game suspension was in place. It remained at six games because Goodell found no mitigating circumstances to lower it.
If Elliott genuinely expresses the attitude he displayed on Twitter during his appeal, it could mitigate or lower his suspension.
Despite what many fans feel, the league is not out to get Elliott any more than it was Brady. The rancor surrounding these actions isn't good for any of the parties involved. But if you're somehow convinced the NFL wants to pile on Elliott and the Cowboys, consider this:
Brian McCarthy, vice president of communication, said Saturday that the league's investigation into Elliott's alleged involvement in a July 16 bar fight is closed. This is significant because a letter sent to the running back after his suspension states he "must have no further adverse involvement with law enforcement, and must not commit any additional violations of league policies." The letter outlines that an additional violation "of this nature may result in your suspension or potential banishment from the NFL."
No longer having this hang over Elliott's head could, even if it's in a small way, improve the dynamics of his dealings with the league office.
Elliott's representatives have said the NFL's findings are "replete with factual inaccuracies and erroneous conclusions." They vowed to present "a slew of additional credible and controverting evidence" in the coming weeks to make their case.
But again, how far will they push it? Brady's saga unfolded over 14 months. Elliott's has already been going on for 13 months.
Is it in anyone's best interest to extend it with an injunction through the rest of this year and potentially beyond?
FEATURED PHOTO: Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) looks up as the national anthem is sung before the start of play in a preseason game between the Dallas Cowboys and Los Angeles Rams on Saturday in Los Angeles. (Vernon Bryant/The Dallas Morning News)