Shaming Ezekiel Elliott over one unflattering photo is absurd

This is the online version of our morning newsletter, The Morning Win. Subscribe to get irreverent and incisive sports stories, delivered to your mailbox every morning.

Holy crap, this is so frustrating for so many reasons.

Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott shared a photo of himself with his 2.7 million Instagram followers over the weekend. The picture shows Elliott with Broncos linebacker Von Miller at the annual Von Miller Day celebration in Miller’s hometown of DeSoto, Texas — a Dallas suburb. Sponsored by the Dallas Mavericks and Miller’s charity, among others, Von Miller Day is a free event featuring kickball and bouncy castles and generally sounds awesome. It’s hard to blame Elliott for being there, but Elliott presumably didn’t have to be there. His showing up represents him doing a nice thing for a fellow NFL player and the greater Dallas area.

But on account of this single photo Elliott shared from the event, legions of NFL fans are mocking him for being fat and even spinning it into fantasy-football drivel about his 2019 draft position. Here’s the photo, via Elliott’s instagram. That’s Elliott on the left, with the cool hair and the red shorts:

What a porker!

OK, first of all, it’s one photo. Not everyone poses for a thousand selfies before settling on the single most flattering one to share online, and maybe Elliott was too busy doing a decent thing for young football fans to bother ensuring he had the optimal angle on this photo. Does no one remember the DEREK EATER saga of yesteryear? Do we not already have, like, a hundred examples of how a single unflattering photo shared online can prompt undue and undeserved criticism?

Look at some of the comments, and imagine seeing stuff like this one something you posted:

Check out this other photo of Elliott at the same event. Dude doesn’t even really look fat by any reasonable standard in the photo with Miller above, and he definitely, definitely doesn’t look fat in the second image. NFL players are not built like normal people because they are physical freaks. Elliott is listed at 6’0″ and 225 pounds, a height and weight that qualify him as “obese” by BMI. He is not obese. Pro athletes look different than you and me. They’re built on different scales. Normal clothing doesn’t always fit them right. Elliott might be — probably is — completely ripped under there. If you’re too lazy to cross-check with a second offseason photo from Elliott’s instagram, who’s the real fatty here?

Second, it’s freakin’ April. The 2019-20 NFL schedule itself is only a few days old, and the season doesn’t start until September. Do you not have any sense of how difficult it is to get in the NFL, and train in the NFL, and star in the NFL like Elliott does? No one just cruises into that type of success at football’s highest level while slacking off in the weight room. Even if Elliott did put on few pounds in the early part of this offseason — and he didn’t — it’s patently absurd to believe you know better than he does about how he should be treating his body.

Lastly: Social media, for all that it can be frustrating, can also be a gift to sports fans. It gives us unprecedented, unfiltered access to our athlete heroes, and every time you do something like, say, fat-shame Ezekiel Elliott over one poorly angled photo and spin something innocent into some whole dumb controversy, you undoubtedly make athletes more reluctant to give us longer looks behind the curtains.

Just be cool, for cryin’ out loud. This guy is not fat, he has another four months to get into shape anyway, and why are we focused on Elliott’s waistline over the fact that Von Miller is repping Pink Floyd’s The Wall like a man with distinguishing taste in classic rock concept albums?

Sunday’s big winner: Ramón Laureano

Ramón Laureano (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

Real Ramón Laureano hipsters have been raving about the Oakland outfielder’s incredible arm since he came up last August, but Laureano further established himself as one of MLB’s most electric defensive players on Sunday by robbing a homer and then, somehow, overthrowing first base on the fly from deep left center. A’s catcher Nick Hundley made a terrific play in his own right to back up the throw and catch Justin Smoak trying to advance.

Quick hits: Nick Nurse, Katelyn Ohashi, Durant

– Toronto Raptors coach Nick Nurse made an exceptionally silly face in his team’s Game 4 win over the Magic on Sunday. He looks like the world’s best dressed zombie.

– UCLA gymnast Katelyn Ohashi, whose perfect 10 floor routine became a viral sensation earlier this year, finished her college career with another dazzling performance. If this woman doesn’t aspire to a 2020 Olympic bid, someone needs to get her on Dancing With The Stars or some such show, if only because it’d be funny watching actors and ex-NFL dudes try to push way beyond their limits to keep up with her.

– After the Warriors stunning collapse in Game 2 of their series against the Clippers, Kevin Durant is now back to doing stuff like this and Golden State is back to looking like a superteam. It’d seem kind of boring if it wasn’t so darn cool.