As he made his way into the massive photo shoot studio, Ezekiel Elliott was asked what music he wanted to pose to. “Jay Z,” he told the team assembled. A fitting selection: He’s an icon, a gold standard. As players arrived to the 22nd annual NFLPA Rookie Premiere, most were hoping to feel a sense of discovery when it comes to business and marketing partners. To move from the largely unknown collegiate ranks to become major players because of their pro careers.
For Elliott, it’s a bit different. Already a household name during his time at Ohio State, he was drafted by Dallas last month – moving from one iconic brand to the next. Brands were already lining up to work with the running back before he was drafted, even more so now. He sat down to talk with the NFLPA about understanding how to target the right opportunities:
NFLPA: How much does uniqueness play into what you’re all being educated about this week?
Elliott: Well, for me, it’s not so much about standing out, it’s about being yourself. So honestly, the best way to be yourself is to be yourself.
NFLPA: Is this week helping brands and partners see that personality you have?
Elliott: Well, I have the beauty of being a Dallas Cowboy, so I’ve gotten a lot of exposure, especially coming from a school like Ohio State. I’ve had a lot of exposure coming out of college, so I feel like people have had a good chance to see my personality. But I think this has been important. They said this is like the combine of the off-the-field work. So you’ve got to make an impression on people. You’ve got to be yourself. Show them who you are and hopefully some good opportunities come from this.
NFLPA: What has your impression been of these last two days? More than what you expected? Have your eyes been opened on some things?
Elliott: I think that’s it’s really sharpened up some knowledge. It’s great to come here and get in the minds of some former players that have been through it. Learn about the PA and what they do for us as players.
NFLPA: Since you went to Ohio State and are now with Dallas – both with huge followings – are you kind of presented with the rare opportunity of having everything at your fingertips?
Elliott: That’s one thing that I’ve learned – not everything is worth it. There’s good money and bad money. Just because there’s a deal on the table, doesn’t mean that you have to take it. You can learn about a company more, and then if you like them, you can act on it.
NFLPA: If you didn’t have this event, how much do you think you’d be in the dark on this stuff? Would it have taken you a while to figure it out?
Elliott: Probably wouldn’t have known a lot. That’s a lot of what the NFLPA does for us and the services they have for us as players. Without this event, it probably would’ve taken me a while to figure out some of this stuff.