Mac Engel

Dak Prescott verbally and physically responds to Josh Norman

He would never admit it, but watch Dak Prescott’s long run against Washington closely and it looks like he slowed down in order to punch Josh Norman.

Sorry, not punch. A punch would have resulted in Dak being ejected. He threw a stiff arm rather than to haul off and take a swing, which is probably what he wanted to do.

No one could blame Dak if he hesitated to line up and give Norman a friendly pop in the chest during their 31-21 win at Washington on Sunday.

During the week, Norman told the Associated Press the following about Dak, “You stand back there in the pocket all day and go through your first, second and third reads and come back to your first one, OK, cool. Anybody can do that. At the end of the day, he’s been playing well. As you can see, he’s evolved. He’s growing in the system. He’s just taking his keys and picking his targets and throwing the ball on time.”

When you read the entire quote, it doesn’t sound like character assassination. But we live in a Twitter/sound bite world where snippets are headlines, and anything can be and is used in hopes of landing like a boulder in a baby pool.

Norman had watched Dak’s performance in Week 1 against the New York Giants, where he had a perfect passer rating, and was blunt. In short, he sounded like Josh Norman.

He is also not the first person to say this about Dak.

What Norman is not doing is calling Dak special. He was inferring Dak is a product more of the people around him, which has been a common knock since Dak fell into the starting role as a rookie in 2016.

Against the Redskins, Dak completed 26 of 30 passes for 269 yards with three touchdowns. He also had five runs for 69 yards, including one run where he appeared to slow down to stiff arm Norman in the chest. Not sure if there was a middle finger in that shove.

“I mean, sure I heard it,” Dak said after the game. “But I’m not going to allow him to be a motivation to me. I have enough things that motivate me. That get me going. What somebody says about me, good or bad, definitely isn’t the case, especially when he’s not on this team.”

Don’t buy that.

Players hear and read it all, especially when someone says something bad about them. It’s human nature.

It is one thing if a self-important blowhard member of the media says something; those comments may hurt, but they can be written off as part of the media game that sells the game.

When an opposing player takes a shot, directly or indirectly, they always land.

Last year, then New York Giants safety Landon Collins offered this blunt assessment of Dak: “Honestly, we really just have to focus on stopping (running back) Zeke Elliott. Making sure every run gap, we’re playing our gap assignments and make sure we close the air out of their running game.

“If we do that, put the ball into Dak’s hands, I think we have a better shot at winning.”

Collins is now a member of the Washington Redskins.

“Is it just them two? Let’s be honest,” Dak said. “I can’t say I credit anybody for that; that’s a chip on my shoulder and it’s been there since I’ve been playing this game for a long time. Always been doubted. Always accept it. It’s who I am.”

By now, Dak is numb to such comments, even if he hears all of them, which he does.

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Mac Engel is an award-winning columnist who has extensive experience covering Fort Worth-Dallas area sports for 20 years. He has covered high schools, colleges, all four major sports teams as well as Olympic games and the world of entertainment, too. He combines dry wit with first-person reporting to complement a head of hair that is almost unfair.
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