Prescott had a good relationship with offensive coordinator Kellen Moore, a person left over from former coach Jason Garrett’s staff who continues to call games. But Prescott and McCarthy – who have long prided themselves on their close relationship with their center-backs, most notably Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers during his 13 seasons, nine playoff trips and a Super Bowl win with the Green Bay Packers – admit they didn’t “we don’t know much about each other at this time a year ago. (” It was definitely a weird start, “McCarthy said.)
However, Prescott was playing some of his best football in 2020, until he started running left against the New York Giants and ended up crashing to the ground, his right foot hanging sideways while he desperately tried to bring him back to his place. The severity of the damage quickly became apparent, so graphic that it was then erased from reruns on some television networks.
“As head coach, I’ve stood on some really bad injuries, and that was definitely at the top of the list,” McCarthy said. “But … the response in the stadium and from the Giants to everyone – I’ve never seen anything like it. I think that says a lot about how everyone feels about Dak Prescott.”
Arms folded as he looked down at the medical staff attending Prescott, McCarthy was clearly worried. Garrett, now the Giants offensive coordinator, also came on. Players from both teams offered encouragement to Prescott, who was sent off after doctors stabilized his leg. Tears welled up in his face. He held out a fist to receive the cheering crowd before disappearing into the tunnel. Urgent surgery ended that night.
Prescott’s most vivid memory of that day is “probably just the moment I got in the wheelchair. I think it was when all the emotions just started hitting me – that my season was over. I have never lost so much time in the game football and just to know that I was going to leave the field, I would not be there with my teammates, my brothers, and that just hurt me, but just the hug I got – from the coach, from my teammates, “Saying it for me would be good on the other hand – and just leaving the field was something I will never forget.”
Given the situation — an injury at the end of the season, an extensive rehab ahead, no contract for 2021, intensive COVID protocols in the building, a team that started three more QBs, play-off hopes alive up to a loss in rematch of Week 17 with the Giants just because no one else in NFC East was winning – many players, much less superstars, would have dropped out of the net. But within days, Prescott was back in the building, undergoing daily COVID testing to stay close to his teammates, even asking McCarthy to express ideas and opinions about the offense.
“Football has always been my life,” Prescott said. “My mother used to tell me I eat, sleep and breathe. … I was trying to fix my ankle and get back on the field. That was all I knew for the most part, is to go back there, help my friends I just knew I could give them support, I could get them, I could be there for everything they need and be that mental support at the time I knew I obviously couldn’t be there So “It was just important for me to behave, and I knew it was good for my well-being, I’m just going back to something I love.”
Prescott has spoken openly about mental health since his brother, Jace, committed suicide in April 2020. And many athletes struggle mentally during rehab, suddenly immobilized, and their entire lives seemingly on hold. Asked how much of the decision to stay engaged was keeping the mind in a positive place, Prescott said: “Yes, maybe 90 percent or more. A lot of it was to help teammates and that’s all I know. But at the same time, I knew it was important for me to keep my mind spinning, to stay engaged in the game, to be there as much as I could.I knew it would help me get through those challenging parts when I was not “I was able to rehabilitate and I was just sitting with my leg up.”