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Some are worried about the off-the-field demeanor of Ezekiel Elliott, but Emmitt Smith isn’t one of them wholesale sports jerseys.

Sure the Hall of Fame running back would like the young star to be more cognizant of just how bright the spotlight is on him, but Smith also not naive to the reality of it all. The moment Elliott steps out his front door, the cameras and cell phones will come out — as even casual pedestrians instantly mutate into unpaid paparazzi.

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It’s something Smith has obviously experienced before, only not to this magnitude given the prevalence of outlets like TMZ alongside massive social media culture. The NFL’s all-time leading rusher would simply like everyone to allow Elliott the space to enjoy his youth and time off, the latter most certainly being earned.

He recently spoke with 105.3FM The Fan to give his thoughts, as transcribed by The Dallas Morning News:

“You know, I think this is the offseason, and you should be able to enjoy the fruit of your labor at some point. How you do it and where you do it and how it’s exposed is really important. I think he has to learn the balance of being able to do things in private and not so public. Because in today’s society, everybody has a cell phone and everybody’s trying to get a picture of something. Even if it’s just by accident. Oh there’s Zeke, let me film this. Oh there’s Dak, let me film that. Oh there’s Emmitt, let me turn my camera this way and make it look like I’m taking a picture of myself but I really want to get a picture of him. So everything is up for people to scrutinize and see. And once he learns that balance, I think he’ll be fine. You don’t have these issues from him during the course of the season. This is off his offseason and he is 21 years old. He’s a young guy. So is the rest of the team. Everybody matures at different levels, and I think hearing him talking about football and what he needs to work on, he’s starting to focus on that. And now he has something to do. He has to start training and he’s starting to do that. He has something to occupy that time and that space, and that’s a good thing.”

Being a star Cowboys’ player brings with it a lot of responsibility, whether that be fair or not.

Smith believes the concern over Elliott is grossly overblown, and there are those who stand with him on that point. The unfortunate truth is perception is reality, and the sooner Elliott realizes this — the better off he will be in the court of public opinion.

For now, though, the jury’s still out.