Mac Engel

Of Dak, Romo, Fame and never forgetting where you came from

Dak Prescott on Tony Romo

Dak Prescott says he expects next year to be harder and talks about his relationship and respect for Tony Romo. (Star-Telegram/Rodger Mallison)
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Dak Prescott says he expects next year to be harder and talks about his relationship and respect for Tony Romo. (Star-Telegram/Rodger Mallison)

With Tony Romo’s basketball career complete, DFW’s best dual-sport athlete since Deion Sanders was with Romo’s former football team can now officially move ahead. On this Easter Sunday, to this we all say, “Thank you, Lord.”

Now all Dak Prescott must do is to be better than the all-time leading passer in Dallas Cowboys history. There is no “rookie excuse,” and there will be no $20 million, Pro Bowl passer on the bench waiting to save the franchise should Dak go down.

Dak is the safety net now.

“Do I think this is going to get harder?” Dak said to me Saturday evening after his appearance at the 105.3 The Fan’s Mudbug Bash. “Yeah, I mean, obviously. Any time you’ve had the success that I had in one year, obviously my first year, I expect things to get harder. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

“I expect the defenses got more looks at me and they are going to throw things at me. I’m ready for all of it.”

While there is much Dak can absorb from Mr. Romo’s impressive career, he can also learn by doing some of things Romo didn’t, starting by staying true to himself and never forgetting where he came from.

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott attends the Mud Bug Bash in Arlington to answer questions and sign autographs. (Star-Telegram/Rodger Mallison)

Before Dak attempts this era-defining necessity of equaling and surpassing Romo, Mr. Romo owes Dak a thank you before he sits next to Jim Nantz. No one had a bigger impact to improve the trajectory of Romo’s exit from the Cowboys than Dak.

I can’t say I am surprised. He’s had some injuries and he’s got to take care of himself. I just hope that’s what he wanted to do. I know he has some football left in him if he has that in mind. He’s a great player.

Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott on Tony Romo

Tony did while Dak hasn’t, not yet. Maybe he won’t. Both men were ignored to overlooked coming out of high school and college.

The moment Fame kissed Romo on the lips in 2006 — most likely around the time he began dating pop star Jessica Simpson — he forgot what it was like to be anonymous. He didn’t forget ever how to work, but he certainly forgot what it was like to be a little person. It’s not a uncommon personality alteration when the pretty girl who never gave you the time of day suddenly can’t be around you enough.

As evidenced by watching Dak interact with the fans Saturday night in Arlington, he enjoys this part of the job. Romo enjoyed interacting with famous people while the other portions of being the QB of the most famous football team in America never suited his personality.

He simply never wanted that part of the job, whereas Dak has embraced it.

Dak’s arrival and subsequent success allowed Romo to leave as a sympathetic hero, complete with his own Be a Dallas Maverick for a Day experience. For a franchise that is defined by Vince Lombardi trophies, Romo’s exodus to the booth on the white horse is one of the most mystifying this town has ever seen.

It’s one thing for the Texas Rangers, who have never won a World Series, to build a statue for Nolan Ryan and quite another for the Cowboys to canonize a 2-4 playoff quarterback. Other than the fact that Jerry Jones loves Romo, it just never made sense.

Ponder this — if Romo had remained healthy in ’16 and the Cowboys had the exact same season as Dak, complete with a divisional round playoff defeat to the Green Bay Packers on the game’s final play, Romo’s career remains the same.

No, it wasn’t easy at all. It dang sure wasn’t easy.

Dak Prescott on his rookie season

If Romo had never won in the playoffs, which his record suggests was going to remain the case, he would have finished his career as the same d--- good, aggravating quarterback who didn’t win in the playoffs. Who didn’t meet the standards set by Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman, or Danny White.

But because of Romo’s latest back injury that added to his sad list of additional injuries, Dak’s arrival and the success of the team in ’16, it painted the image of great misfortune for the player who had been the team’s quarterback for a decade. Who simply was a victim of bad timing.

That injury allowed for Romo to stand before a lectern and deliver his “darkest of times” speech, much to the disappointment of his head coach, while the team was enjoying great success.

Then Romo made good on his intention not to be a distraction, even though behind the scenes his behavior didn’t exactly align with his carefully scripted words.

After that crowd-pleasing speech, he did the correct PR thing, which was to vanish. None of this is what he wanted, yet the timing of it all aided his image greatly.

As a rookie in 2016, Dak Prescott threw for 3,667 yards with 23 touchdowns and four interceptions.

Because the team has Dak, people took pity on Romo. He doesn’t want your sympathy, but as evidenced by the outpouring of support he received during his Mavericks career, he benefits from the needless sorrow.

As evidenced by his franchise-leading passing numbers, Romo did countless things right with the Cowboys. Now Dak will try to equal and top Romo’s career while at the same time remaining true to himself and never forgetting what it was like to be a nobody.

Listen to Mac Engel every Tuesday and Thursday on Shan & RJ from 5:30-10 a.m. on 105.3 The Fan.

Mac Engel: 817-390-7697, @macengelprof Facebook

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