We are going to watch the Dallas Cowboys play a game with someone other than Dak Prescott starting at quarterback on Monday night. It will be the first time in a long time that this has been the case for America’s Team.
Just how long has it been, really? I’ve said before that I often look at time through the prism of the NFL which tends to exacerbate the way that it feels in my mind. Consider that the last NFL season without Dak Prescott saw Peyton Manning’s Denver Broncos win the Super Bowl. This was five years ago as you know. Five years prior to that, so the same amount of time, Mike McCarthy’s Green Bay Packers won the Super Bowl. Doesn’t Manning’s feel a lot closer in our memory banks now than McCarthy’s did at that time? Maybe I’m just weird.
It was Kellen Moore, of all people, who is the answer to our trivia question today - the last non-Dak Prescott quarterback to start for the Cowboys. January 3rd, 2016 was a very long time ago which means something that has become quite normalized for Cowboys fans is now rattled.
It’s okay to feel weird or different about watching the Dallas Cowboys without Dak Prescott
While we don’t always know a full bio on the other members of the BTB community, there is an underlying common denominator between us all in that we root for the Dallas Cowboys.
Many of us feel different about all sorts of things and Dak Prescott is certainly one of them. There are those that feel he is elite, those that don’t, and a whole lot in between. All of it matters.
However you feel about Dak, you can likely acknowledge that watching this team play without him is going to feel rather weird and different. Consider that there are Cowboys fans who have gone through all of high school or college, points of life where we are all very impressionable, and that a constant throughout it all has been Dak. There is something startling - within the context of football of course - to that changing.
Speaking for myself, I happened to be a junior in college during the 2010 Dallas Cowboys season. As you are aware the team lost their starting quarterback during a home game against the New York Giants with a rookie, first-round, wide receiver wearing number 88 on the sidelines, all while trying to get their second win of the season. It was Tony Romo then the way that it is Dak Prescott now.
It was a different time for the Cowboys as they would go on to fire their head coach and reach a place of true rock bottom that they are certainly not on track for in the here and now. But in the interest of being honest, it was difficult to find the same energy week in and week out to rally behind Brooks Bollinger as an example. That’s okay.
If we were to sit here and rank our Dallas Cowboys priorities there is no question that the team winning would be objective number one over anything else. The team is bigger than any one player.
As true as that is, it is also true that Dak Prescott has become a larger part of the Dallas Cowboys during his time with the team than most players tend to. Obviously he is the team’s quarterback, captain, leader, etc., the similarities of the situation between he and Tony Romo’s are spooky enough to frustrate us all at the fact that we’ve had to watch this movie twice in our lifetimes let alone within a single decade of measurement. Andy Dalton is not Brooks Bollinger, but he is not the person who’s jersey you’ve bought, who you’ve argued in the name of for so long, he is an outsider stepping into the home of your Cowboys fandom and it is completely normal to feel weird about that.
Being a football fan is obviously a frustrating experience from time to time (it feels more often than that for us) but there are no rules to living it out. You don’t have to be totally ready to feel the same levels of excitement that you normally would during a Cowboys game because we are no longer in what we have known to be normal for so long. Maybe you’re ready. Maybe you’re not. It is all fine and it all makes sense. Football is weird.
At some point in the future, Dak Prescott will likely return behind center for America’s Team, but there is a lot of football to be played between now and then. We will get through it all as we always have with the most important foundational block beneath it all, our unrivaled love for this team.
However you choose to go about the process is up to you. We’re all here for each other.