Cowboys' Ezekiel Elliott surprised NFL fined him for Salvation Army celebration: 'That's on them'

When Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott threw $21 in cash into the giant red Salvation Army kettle after scoring a touchdown on Thanksgiving, he didn't expect the NFL to respond by fining him. Two years ago, when he jumped into the kettle, he escaped a fine. But this time around, despite the good intentions behind the celebration, the league levied a $13,369 fine.

On Wednesday, Elliott weighed in on the NFL's decision, saying it's on the NFL for penalizing him for bringing awareness to the Salvation Army.  Elliott is matching $21 donations to the Salvation Army (up to $21,000 in total). Dak Prescott and the team are doing the same, which will bring the grand total to $63,000 from the Cowboys alone -- not to mention the awareness that Elliott's celebration brought to the cause. Two years ago, his kettle celebration sparked a wave of online donations.

"I mean, I didn't really expect a fine," Elliott said, per The Dallas Morning News. "Really don't care about the fine. It's all for a good cause. We're trying to bring awareness to the Salvation Army. If the NFL doesn't like that, then, that's on them. I'll pay their little fine."

Despite saying he'll "pay their little fine," The Dallas Morning News reported that Elliott will appeal the fine. Elliott also said he thinks the NFL should donate the money to the Salvation Army. Usually, the money from a fine goes to programs that benefit former players. 

Elliott refused to completely hammer the NFL for its decision, but he did note the ridiculous nature of the fine.

"A lot of things they do define ridiculous," Elliott said. "But I mean, that's not really any of my business, not really anything I can change so I'm just going to keep being focused on this season, keep being focused on leading this team and focused on going out there and winning ballgames."

Speaking of ballgames, the Cowboys have a pretty big one on Sunday when they host the Eagles (4:25 p.m. ET, Fox, stream on fuboTV, try for free). 

At 7-5 after a four-game winning streak, the Cowboys are one-game ahead of the Eagles and Redskins in the NFC East. A win over the Eagles wouldn't just give them a two-game lead over the defending Super Bowl champs, it would also give the Cowboys the head-to-head tiebreaker since they already beat the Eagles in Philadelphia earlier this season, which means the Cowboys could essentially eliminate the Eagles from contention in the division with a win on Sunday. A Cowboys loss, however, would allow the Eagles to draw even in the division, which would lead to a frantic final three weeks of the season.

With the Redskins planning to start Mark Sanchez at quarterback, which should eliminate them from the playoff conversation, Sunday's game between the Cowboys and Eagles will either decide the division or create a tight two-team race. In that sense, it has the feel of a playoff game.

CBS Sports Writer

Sean Wagner-McGough joined CBS Sports in 2015 after graduating from UC Berkeley. A native of Seattle, Sean now resides in the Bay Area. He spends his spare time defending Jay Cutler on Twitter. Full Bio

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