Dak Prescott heads into the 2023 season with his head down and singularly focused on doing whatever he can to lead the Dallas Cowboys to the Super Bowl.
Prescott spent the entire offseason as the most dissected, scrutinized and talked about athlete in the nation. About on par with NBA superstar LeBron James on social media, Prescott is constantly a topic on the talking-head circuit of ESPN and FOX Sports because of the ratings and the Cowboys popularity and because of his turnover-filled season of a year ago when he led the league with 15 interceptions in 12 games.
And that was before a training camp narrative about his teammates not respecting him because of a competitive tiff with cornerback Trevon Diggs and the Cowboys trade of a fourth-round pick for failed first-round quarterback Trey Lance. Both signaled to some critics that he has a questionable future in Dallas.
“What I do hear at times, it’s behind me,” Prescott said. “If I’ve ever given credit to people’s opinions, I wouldn’t have made it this far in my life, in this league. Everybody has an opinion. For me, it’s about focusing on what I can do with this team, the guys and the men we have. I can’t control everyone’s narrative, what they try to make something out to be. Any loss is motivating, especially when you finish as we did last year. It’s about turning the page and writing a new sentence. The pen is in our hands and we’re ready to do that.”
Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy has routinely expressed admiration for quarterback and what has had to endure off the field and in the media,
He said there is no question that Prescott is ready to turn the page and start the season, especially with the new offense under McCarthy.
“I think, as a human being, he is extremely focused day to day,” McCarthy said. “I think his discipline and approach to life, let alone professional football is top notch. So I know this, he has definitely taken advantage of every opportunity to learn, obviously evaluate and then the implementation of the things that are new. I’m really impressed with his off season work preparing for this opportunity. Yeah definitely I would say he’s ready to go.”
Where Prescott wants to go is Super Bowl 58 in Las Vegas, breaking a 28-year drought by a Cowboys organization that has five in history but none since 1995. And it’s his job to follow in the footsteps of Hall of Fame quarterbacks Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman to lead them there.
His record of just two playoff wins in eight years is part of the negative scrutiny on his game but his mindset remains lofty heading in Sunday’s season opener at the New York Giants.
“I know where we want to go,” Prescott said. “I keep that in the forefront of my mind, whether it’s the playlist that I play on my phone to name something to remind me. I’ve got a lot of just little different reminders that reminds me of Vegas, reminds me of where I want to be at the end of this year.
“Yeah, but at the same sense it’s about being present and capturing each day. I know there’s no way I can get there unless I give each day my all and that’s more of the focus than it is. But, at times, when it is tough, when you are sacrificing, when the days are long, you want that reminders, so I have those things placed here and there.”
He also continues to look at his life and journey for inspiration.
Prescott grew up on a trailer park in Haughton La., and has never been given anything in his life. He came to the Cowboys as a fourth-round draft pick in 2016 and earned his spot as the starting quarterback with his play just as he did in college at Mississippi State after he was passed over by his favorite college choice, Texas, and recruited as a tight end by home state power LSU.
So Prescott is blocking out all the noise and the haters now. He doesn’t care what they think or say. And no one can stop him from doing something that he puts his mind to and has his heart set on.
Case in point, remember in the spring when Prescott unveiled a huge leg tattoo that featured a ton of artwork important to the quarterback’s life and journey.
There is a picture of the moose is a nod to his brother, Jace, who died by suicide in 2020. The is photo of a Pegasus honors his mother, Peggy, who passed away from cancer in 2013.
There are images of a Black Mamba for Kobe Bryant, a Jumpman logo for Michael Jordan and a picture of Muhammad Ali. The massive tattoo also features Daffy Duck doing Dak’s signature touchdown celebration, the Dallas’ skyline and and a sign from the Pine Creek Estates mobile home park in Louisiana where Prescott grew up.
It took roughly 11 hours to complete and Prescott was put under sedation the entire time.
Remember the controversy about owner Jerry Jones not telling Prescott and Mike McCarthy about the trade for Lance?
Well, the highest paid player in franchise history didn’t tell Jones or his coach about the process of going for 11 hours under until after it was done.
At least he told McCarthy. He never told Jones, who didn’t find out until he was informed by a Star-Telegram reporter in training camp.
“I certainly didn’t know he was under for 10 hours,” a shocked Jones said. “Just so you’re clear, I had no idea about tattoos. I better get up to date on it. I had no idea that required that kind of sedation of any tattoo. It further explains to me why I don’t have a tattoo.”
So the idea of your $40 million quarterback being sedated for more than 10 hours doesn’t frighten you?
“I don’t have a comment,” Jones said before using humor to manage his emotions. “My comment is it explains to me why I don’t do tattoos.”
McCarthy found out the day after the procedure when he saw Prescott and his swollen leg in the locker room.
”I was like ‘whoa, what the ... happen to your leg’,” McCarthy recalled. “So he shows it to me. I’m like ‘Jesus Christ, how long did that take? You’ve been doing it all week. He said, no, I did it all at one time’. He showed me a video of it and like ‘Oh, my God’.”
Prescott explained: “I wasn’t going to tell them but I let them know after. When I saw Mike the next day and my leg was big, he was ‘what (happened to you).
For the record, the process was safe and supervised by a team of medical professionals and part of a new trend with expansive and expensive tattoos for celebrities.
Post Malone, Lil Uzi Vert, Offset, Moneybagg Yo, Odell Beckham Jr. all have gotten tattoos under sedation. And you can add receiver CeeDee Lamb and running back Tony Pollard to list of Cowboys who did it by the same artist that Prescott used, Andres Ortega from the Arizona tattoo shop Onder Link.
Lamb actually got his done first and referred Prescott to Ortega. Pollard was last.
“It was smooth. I just woke up,” Pollard said. “I knew Dak had just did it and CeeDee did it. I know if they trust them I was good. Whey are worth a lot of money.
When Dak did it, that was my green light. If Dak is cool with it. He makes good decisions.”
Neither Pollard nor Lamb were under for 11 or so hours. Neither are the $40 million quarterback of America’s Team who is in line for an extension worth more than $50 million annually.
“I did all this in one sitting,” Prescott said. “10 plus one day and the next day I went for a like two more hours. They came over on a Friday, ran over all the ideas, worked on them and printed them and came back the next day and laid them on my leg.”
McCarthy has grown trust Prescott and his decisions. He was pleased that his trainer Luke Miller was there to oversee things.
“He’s extremely conscientious and he had a lot of people there,” McCarthy said. “It wasn’t like Just one guy, him and the tattoo guy. It looked like a professional operation.”
It was professional but it was admitted it was something he wanted to get done. And he ultimately didn’t care about the press.
“Just put me under,” he said.
“People are gonna think its crazy and it is crazy,” Prescott said. “I get that. But I’m crazy. That’s my point is I am. I know I am. I’m not afraid of nothing.”
And that includes the naysayers.
So critics be damned.
Prescott might be crazy enough to lead the Cowboys to the Super Bowl.