When he was a kid, little Dak Prescott loved the chance to meet football players. Real-life college and NFL athletes doing what he dreamed of one day doing.
A couple weeks prior, Prescott was in Starkville ringing bells for the Salvation Army, same smile on his face, same attitude he has everywhere.
He told the camera that day, “Some things are more important than football.”
It’s an easy truth, after all, as football is just a game with little more than pride or money depending on the outcome.
But it’s not a truth often so easily observed by those who play the game, those who live it, breathe it and spend all their time in it.
Credit to Prescott for recognizing many things about the game that has him where he is. First, that its importance lies much more in the hearts of those children he spent time with than anywhere in the wins and losses columns.
His growing fame is nice, to be sure, but what he can do with it, how he can make the lives of others better, is what matters to him.
“I just like to get going and be full of energy and give other people that energy if they don’t have it,” Prescott said. And it starts with his collegiate brothers at Mississippi State. “I like to have fun, I try to get the most out of people. I want to see them smile, see them be the best they can on and off the field.”
His relentless optimism is what draws people to him, his teammates and coaches will say. Despite the immense heartbreak of losing his mother to cancer late this fall, or the minor setbacks of injuries, interceptions or failed comeback attempts, he never let himself get down over the course of the season or now as MSU prepares for the Liberty Bowl in Memphis.
“I try to be positive no matter what’s going on,” he said. “I think of myself the same no matter what happens. No matter how low I get or how great things are.”
“Just give my mom the credit,” Prescott continued. “She’s the reason I am the way I am, the reason I live. I write MOM on something every day at practice. It’s Mind Over Matter, and it’s also mom. It’s something we talked about every day.”
It’s his mom and family who helped foster his love for football, and also the ones who taught him where the game should fall in his priorities.
Prescott says he grew up in a household where “football is everything,” but also one that raised him to enjoy every moment, because it could be gone at any point. His happiness, they preached, should not be dependent on the game. Football should only add to it.
“My father actually had a chance to go to the Kansas City Chiefs tryouts, and a couple days before it he tore his knee up playing basketball and never got the chance,” Prescott shared. “I have a middle brother who is 6’5”, 315 and is an amazing athlete. Honestly one of the best athletes I’ve seen. Dunks the ball, he’s the best basketball player. He went to Northwestern State and he was a freshman already talking to scouts. We knew he was going to the NFL; there was no doubt about that. A couple knee surgeries later and he’s not there.”
Little would make him happier than to continue stepping onto practice fields and game fields every week, playing the game his mother so loved to watch her family in for years.
Maybe Dak could finally be the first of those Prescott men to make it to the NFL.
Maybe he won’t, but he’s fine either way.
“As much as it means to my family and my life, it’s not everything,” he said. “There’s a lot more important things than football.”
Of course, as he’s playing now, his focus and energy are in leading his Bulldogs and finding a way to beat Rice in the Liberty Bowl. He’s got perspective, but very little makes him smile bigger than taking the field with his teammates and wearing the Maroon and White of the school he considers his family.