Nathaniel Prescott has never been an absentee father.
His relationship with his son has never been publicized, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t there.
Both the story of Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott being raised solely by his late mother Peggy and the narrative that this is another case of a disappearing African-American dad are false.
And this certainly is not a case of a father showing up only after the son makes it big.
The elder Prescott, who goes by “Nat,” has always been there for Dak.
“I have heard it all,” Nat Prescott said Saturday after surprising his son for his birthday dinner Friday night at the Cheesecake Factory. “There is nothing you can tell me. As a black father, we tend to take offense to it. I knew better. It wasn’t for me to convince the world. That is not my job. My child knew. That was the main concern.
“First chance, you have to ask him. There has never been anything estranged about our relationship at all. I am ‘Pops.’ ”
Regarding the surprise for his 24th birthday, Dak Prescott said: “It was cool. It was a surprise. I usually don’t get surprised, so they pulled that one off. I congratulated them on that one because he has tried too many times and it doesn’t work. He got me on that one.
“It was good for him. I was excited more for him with him being a longtime Cowboys fan. The history of being out here in Oxnard, just coming out here and watching us practice.”
There was no pretense with Dak Prescott. It was genuine joy for his father, whom he says has always been there.
“Me and my dad have always had a tight relationship, different from my brothers, I guess,” Dak Prescott said. “But we all have our own individual relationships. He has always been there for me.”
The confusion is likely rooted in his parents’ divorce, dad working in the oil fields and the attention Prescott received in college as his mother succumbed to cancer.
Still, there were stories and rumors about the absentee father as well.
“I noticed and also heard about it,” Nat Prescott said. “At one time, a sports reporter even said his dad was not a factor in his life. Definitely untrue.
“Look at where we are today. I’m going to go biblical on you: ‘No weapon formed against me shall prosper.’ Those people had no idea what was going on with our family. Peggy and I divorced, but that didn’t separate my relationship with my kids. Also, Peggy and I still had a standing date every Wednesday after our divorce. We were the best of friends. We just wasn’t the couple anymore.”
Nat Prescott said he is not bitter about the rumors because “it wasn’t his story to tell” and “it’s about Dak, not about me.”
All that matters to him is their relationship. It’s stronger now than ever.
Nat Prescott moved to Austin before Dak’s final year at Mississippi State and worked as a city bus driver until this past spring.
Now he lives in Frisco, about five miles from his son.
“He wanted to be in Dallas,” Dak Prescott said. “I wanted him to be in Dallas. It’s more convenient. He’s there for me. If I need something, he helps me out and gets it done. He is watching my two dogs right now, so it’s a whole lot more convenient.”
Nat Prescott wouldn’t have it any other way.
He played defensive end and linebacker at Grambling State before his football career was derailed by injuries. But the native of Vinton, La., has been a lifelong Cowboys fan and calls the last year “a phenomenal ride.”
What makes him most proud is that his son hasn’t changed one bit.
“He’s still Dak,” Nat said. “I texted him last year before every game: ‘Be Dak. If I get Dak, then I know what I got.’ I simply got back, ‘Pops, I don’t know how to be anything else.’ I’m thankful to God he’s stayed grounded.”
Prescott hasn’t changed, and neither has his relationship with his dad — who has always been there.