ur thinking really received a jolt Friday morning as we observed an overflow parking lot at Texas A&M, where our granddaughter Ryan Smith was to receive her bachelor’s degree in Industrial Distribution.We really thought that the relatives and friends of the graduates would result in just a modest crowd and number of graduates.Boy, were we wrong!! The parking lot attendants had us twisting a turning through that huge area like we were in a maze, but we finally were able to park near Reed Arena, which was nearly full.There were ten times more graduates than I figured. The program was quite lengthy and then exiting the arena’s parking area was bumper-to-bumper and took quite a while. After we checked out of our hotel, we went to a lovely luncheon at a winery called Messina’s Hof that was sponsored jointly for Ryan by our daughter Karen Smith and her husband Brian plus the grandparents. There was a lot of small talk until a couple of those in attendance saw on their I-Phones that Dallas Cowboys’ prized running back Ezekiel Elliott received a six-game suspension from the National Football League’s Special Counsel for Conduct. The NFL’s baseline suspension for domestic violence is six games, though mitigating factors can be taken into account. Elliott received a letter that said external NFL advisors “were of the view that there is substantial and persuasive evidence supporting a finding that he (Elliott) engaged in physical violence against (a woman he had a relationship with) during the week of July 16, 2016.” The letter stated Elliott used “physical force” three times in a span of five days in a Columbus, Ohio apartment last July resulting in injuries to Tiffany Thompson’s face, neck, shoulders, arms, hands, wrists, hips and knees. She reportedly was his girl friend at the time. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell made his decision based on the findings and in consulting with four advisors, including Hall of Fame player Ken Houston. Elliott’s ban means the Cowboys will have four players  suspended when last year’s NFC East champions begin the regular season next month—with the possibility of losing two more. Less than a week before the suspension was announced, Jethroe (Cowboy’s owner Jerry Jones) publicly doubled-down on his belief that Elliott would not be suspended. Elliott was certain to appeal the suspension, but the Cowboys elected to keep the All-Pro running back out of last weekend’s exhibition game that was won by the LA Rams, 13-10. “What will this do to the Cowboys’ offense?” one asked. Actually, the team will be right where it was at this time of the preseason last year when Elliott and quarterback Dak Prescott were just newly-signed rookies who weren’t even in the team’s long-range plans. When the news broke about Elliott’s suspension, the twitter lines were overloaded with Cowboys fans and sports media hosts showing their dismay about the harshness of the punishment. The evidence, which included photographic and digital evidence, thousands of text messages and other records of electronic communications, was quite clear. Just because criminal charges weren’t filed against Elliott doesn’t mean the league isn’t allowed to take action. Elliott also was caught on camera pulling down a woman’s shirt during a St. Patrick’s Day parade this year, not to mention the bar fight in Dallas that occurred recently. So those fans who think Elliott is a victim who’s being made an example of the NFL’s weak policy, they had better think again. I believe he needs to decide quickly whether he wants to blaze a trail to be an elite NFL football player or to be just another criminal wearing his team’s uniform. I hope for the sake of the millions of Dallas Cowboys football fans that Ezekiel Elliott makes the right choice. KWICKIES…Several Houston Texans players are trying out the new helmet that is supposed to curb concussions. The new Vicis multiple layers work together to slow the impact forces by spreading the impact across the helmet. It’s available to anyone who wants to wear it. Linebackers Brian Cushing, Benardrick McKinney and Jadeveon Clowney plus free safety Andre Hal and running back Lamar Miller have elected to wear the helmet. According to the National Sexual Violence Research Center, one of every five female college students is raped. Attention Colin Kaepernick—two more starting quarterbacks are in danger of not starting the regular season due to injury. The Miami Dolphins announced that former Texas Aggie Ryan Tannehill will undergo an operation to repair the torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee and will miss the entire season. Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco will soon return to practice but won’t play in a game before Baltimore opens the regular season Sept. 10. And Kaepernick will probably remain unemployed because most owners don’t want to upset their fan base with a social distraction on their team. Congrats to the Mid County baseball team for winning the Babe Ruth Senior World Series Saturday when they blanked Cape Cod 6-0. The team is composed of players aged 16-18. Justin Thomas, a 24-year-old third-generation professional golfer in his family, held off a slew of contenders—including former PNG and Lamar star Chris Stroud– Sunday to win the PGA Championship by two strokes over Francisco Molinari, Patrick Reed and Louis Oosthuizen. The victory was worth $1.89 million as Justin follows in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, who were also PGA pros. The Houston Astros hopefully are back on track with a 2-1 victory over the Texas Rangers Sunday to prevent a sweep by the home team. The Astros have dropped seven of their last 10 games and are 12-16 through Sunday since the All-Star break. Ace left-hander Dallas Keuchel won his first game on the mound since early June, giving up one run—an opposite field homer by Adrian Beltre. Houston still has a 12-game lead over the LA Angels, but is struggling to score runs. Their road trip continued with a four-game series against the Arizona Diamondbacks that began Monday. Miami Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton homered in his fourth straight game Sunday to match Gary Sheffield’s team record set in 1996. It was the 250th homer of Stanton’s career and came in his 941st game. Only five players since 1913 have reached the 250 milestone faster. JUST BETWEEN US…After scrimmaging their own teammates for two weeks, high school football players will have a chance to do it to a real opponent as our local teams prepare for their first real scrimmage this weekend. The West Orange-Stark Mustangs host a tough Port Neches-Groves team Friday at 7 p.m., the Little Cypress-Mauriceville Battlin’ Bears will play Coldspring at Bears Stadium Friday morning, Orangefield is at home against Shepherd in a 6 p.m. contest while Bridge City travels to meet Buna, also on Friday.

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