Mom’s mem­ory stead­ies Prescott

The Sun Herald (Sunday) - - Sports - BY SCHUYLER DIXON As­so­ci­ated Press

Through every in­ter­cep­tion, fum­ble and loss, Dak Prescott’s mind is on the next throw, the next scram­ble, the next game for the Dal­las Cow­boys.

The quar­ter­back of Amer­ica’s Team thinks of where he’s been: al­most ex­actly five years re­moved from his mom, Peggy Prescott, dy­ing of colon can­cer when her son was a 20-year-old sopho­more at Mis­sis­sippi State. That makes it eas­ier for him to move on in his foot­ball world.

“When you lose your mom, it’s not that easy,” Prescott said. “That’s some­thing you’ve got to wake up every day, look­ing your­self in the face and know­ing that you’ve got an an­gel. You’ve got an an­gel that has ex­pec­ta­tions for you to do, and you’ve got to go out there and do them each and every day.”

And that’s why the ex­pec­ta­tions of oth­ers won’t faze Prescott with the losses al­most as fre­quent as the vic­to­ries since he led a fran­chise-record 11game win­ning streak that helped him earn NFL Of­fen­sive Rookie of the Year hon­ors in

2016.

The strug­gling Dal­las of­fense, more specif­i­cally the pass­ing game , ap­pears to be the big­gest ob­sta­cle for the Cow­boys as they try to re­turn to the play­offs af­ter falling short dur­ing Prescott’s lessthan-stel­lar en­core last year. He fig­ures his foot­ball-lov­ing mom would be right there with the rest of the crit­ics, with a caveat.

“She’d let me know how she felt about our strug­gles and about the mis­takes and those type of things,” Prescott said. “Sim­ply on the other hand of hav­ing the con­fi­dence in me of fix­ing them and in our team of fix­ing them and get­ting back to play­ing the type of ball we want to play as a team.”

Prescott paused in the mid­dle of the sea­son dur­ing the Cow­boys’ open week for a cause that will en­dure for him re­gard­less of which di­rec­tion his ca­reer goes.

His role in Bris­tol-My­ers Squibb’s “Ready. Raise. Rise.” cam­paign is one of his can­cer aware­ness ini­tia­tives from a plat­form Prescott’s mom en­vi­sioned af­ter she was di­ag­nosed.

Whether she could have seen it com­ing through her son’s sud­den star­dom as quar­ter­back of one of the world’s most vis­i­ble pro sports fran­chises is an­other ques­tion.

“I think she def­i­nitely did,” said Prescott, who has been part of a cam­paign that led to a $250,000 do­na­tion to can­cer ad­vo­cacy groups. “And she had plans and she had dreams for me.”

Prescott re­mem­bers watch­ing with his mom when Hall of Fame quar­ter­back Brett Favre played a night af­ter his father died and threw for 399 yards and four touch­downs in Green Bay’s 41-7 win over Oak­land in 2003.

“She said, ‘I want you to play if that ever hap- pens,’” Prescott said.

His mom died on a Sun­day – the day af­ter he threw three in­ter­cep­tions in a loss to South Carolina, when he knew some­thing was wrong be­cause his mom hadn’t texted or called him back be­fore the game. The fu­neral was on a Wed­nes­day – three days be­fore a loss to Texas A&M.

“And I said, ‘I’ve got to get back. My mom would be mad that I even missed that prac­tice that I missed yes­ter­day,’ ” Prescott re­called. “I could say that’s the mo­ment that I started al­low­ing my mom to be my story, do­ing the things that she told me and she taught me.”

His Mis­sis­sippi State team­mates saw it when Prescott led the Bull­dogs to the first No. 1 rank­ing in school his­tory a year later, be­fore a loss to Nick Sa­ban and Alabama.

His Dal­las team­mates saw it when he showed up as the for­got­ten fourthround pick and third­stringer be­hind fran­chise pass­ing leader Tony Romo. Af­ter backup Kellen Moore broke an an­kle in train­ing camp and Romo in­jured his back in a pre­sea­son game, Prescott got his chance. Romo never got his job back.

“He’s had the same qual­i­ties from Day 1, as a rookie to now,” re­ceiver Cole Beasley said. “Hasn’t changed at all. I don’t know if he had many bad games in 2016. But I know he has al­ways been the same guy whether good or bad since I’ve known him.”

Those qual­i­ties have been tested, with a 14-13 record since his re­mark­able 11-1 start and more in­ter­cep­tions, fum­bles and sacks. Owner and gen­eral man­ager Jerry Jones keeps us­ing stronger lan­guage to sug­gest he’s set­tled on his quar­ter­back of the fu­ture, but doubters are nu­mer­ous out­side Cow­boys head­quar­ters.

“When you have a guy that’s a win­ner, boy, hard to pass up on guys that are win­ners,” said Florida coach Dan Mullen, who was Prescott’s coach at Mis­sis­sippi State. “There’s all kinds of dif­fer­ent quar- ter­backs. A win­ner’s a win­ner. That’s the first thing I look for in quar­ter­backs.”

Ask Prescott how he thinks he needs to im­prove, and he’ll say in ev­ery­thing. A Cow­boys fan as a kid grow­ing up near the Texas state line in Louisiana, Prescott longs to end a Su­per Bowl drought that’s ap­proach­ing 25 years.

But there’s a small part of Prescott that would con­cede he’s al­ready a win­ner, look­ing back over five years since his mom died, and 25 months since he was the open­ing day quar­ter­back with Dal­las fans won­der­ing whether an­other sea­son was lost be­cause of an­other Romo in­jury.

“My mom’s def­i­nitely an emotional woman,” Prescott said, slip­ping into the present tense.

“So it’d be tears, it’d be a lot of tears in the last 25 months. She asked me when she ini­tially got sick to al­low her to be my story. She said all greats have a story. So for my mom to say that back in 2013 to where we are now, I think she’d be proud.”

JIM LYTLE AP file photo

Dak Prescott, then at Mis­sis­sippi State, hon­ored his late mother af­ter a touch­down in a 2015 game.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.