Dallas Cowboys

What has Dak saying he ‘wouldn’t call it envious, but it’s definitely being a competitor’?

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott is at Super Bowl LIII as a finalist for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, the highest off-field honor that can be bestowed on an NFL player.

That he has done enough to be worthy of consideration in just his third year in the league says a lot about what he does off the field and his commitment to charitable work.

“It’s a blessing,’‘ Prescott said. “To be able to reach out and touch as many lives and have the impact and effect I do on people around Dallas, around the country and around the world, it’s incredible. I’m just thankful to have that platform and to be where I am. I know how important it is for me to use it the right way.’‘

But Prescott is also in Atlanta a little envious of two of his fellow quarterbacks from the Class of 2016.

Though Prescott was drafted in the fourth round by the Cowboys and was actually the seventh quarterback taken in the draft, he was the one who initially took the league by storm.

Prescott fashioned the finest rookie season of any quarterback in NFL history, leading the Cowboys to a 13-3 record and winning rookie of the year honors.

As far as team success goes, Philadelphia Eagles QB Carson Wentz, the No. 2 overall pick in 2016, won a Super Bowl last season and Jared Goff, the No. 1 pick by the Los Angeles Rams, has a chance to earn a ring on Sunday.

Prescott said he is not envious of their success, but acknowledges it has stoked his competitive fire.

“A hundred percent. A hundred percent,” Prescott said. “For me, anyways, I wouldn’t call it envious, but it’s definitely being a competitor. I don’t know the words. All respect for Goff, all respect for Wentz, all respect for their teams, but yeah, when you come in, you want to be the guy who goes to those Super Bowls, those guys that win the Super Bowl. But credit Wentz and those guys for doing it last year and congrats to Goff and them for being here. I mean, being in my class, hey, go win it. I’ll get mine.”

Prescott is pleased with the season the Cowboys had in 2018, especially after starting 3-5 and rebounding to a 10-6 finish to win the NFC East for the second time in three years.

He set career-bests in passing yards (3,885 - more than 200 greater than his club rookie record), attempts (526) and completions (356 - second in team history) in what he called a special season for himself and the team.

“We were 3-5 and everyone counted us out,” Prescott said. “When you’re 3-5 and people are counting you out, especially in the market of Dallas, where it’s very saturated with negativity and all this, what you can’t do. To have the team we had to brush that off, put their blinders on, not listen to it and play their best ball after going 3-5, it shows you right there, it shows you the character of the guys that we have on the team, the character we created coming together and bonding.”

Prescott said the key for the Cowboys to take the next step is to find a way to win in the playoffs and finish off games, unlike the 30-22 NFC divisional loss to the Rams that helped propel Goff to the Super Bowl and Prescott to the awards circuit.

He played in his second Pro Bowl in three years last week and is now set to find out his fate as the Cowboys finalist for the Walter Payton Man of the Year award at the NFL Honors program Saturday night in Atlanta.

Prescott is proud that his work off the field is being acknowledged and points to mother Peggy, who died of colon cancer when was in college at Mississippi State, as a source of inspiration.

“It’s amazing,’‘ Prescott said. “I’m not someone who cares that much about stats or accolades, recognition, things of that nature. But when you’re talking Walter Payton, you’re talking about being recognized for things you do off the field. It’s incredible.

“It’s a testament to what my mom told me to do, allow her to be my story. Any chance I get to go out there and inspire and maybe tell my story to make somebody better, I’m going to do that.”

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Clarence E. Hill Jr. has covered the Dallas Cowboys as a beat writer/columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram since 1997. That includes just two playoff wins, six coaches and countless controversies from the demise of the dynasty teams of the 1990s through the rollercoaster years of the Tony Romo era until Jason Garrett’s process Cowboys.