The Dallas Cowboys are extremely fortunate to have Dak Prescott. We all know that.
Dak is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL and someone who seemingly always finds a chance to will the Cowboys to victory. He is beloved by his teammates and relishes playing for the team that he rooted for growing up. Simply put, he is a dream of a quarterback to cheer for.
Much of the reason as to why Prescott is so endearing, however, has nothing to do with how many touchdowns he throws or comebacks he engineers. From the day he stepped in as the team’s starting quarterback in 2016, many have regarded Prescott to be among the greatest leaders that the Dallas Cowboys have ever had. His teammates will follow him anywhere.
Dak leads more than just offensive drives. For the past few years, he has used the massive platform that accompanies the star on his helmet to raise awareness for a cause that has impacted him and his family: mental health.
Things have been difficult for many people since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020 and they have taken a toll on everyone’s mental health. That year was made all the more difficult for Dak Prescott and his family as they lost his brother Jace Prescott to suicide on April 24, 2020 at age 31. (Suicide is the second-leading cause of death among people aged between the ages of 10 and 34.)
Since then, Prescott has dealt with a number of on-the-field challenges in addition to his family turmoil. He entered the 2020 season playing on the franchise tag with his future in Dallas up in the air, got hurt doing so, missed a majority of the year, and went through a rehab process to see him get right for 2021. Doing all of that in and of itself would be difficult — let alone in the aftermath of losing his brother.
Dak also navigated a world that can be treacherous for many as he dealt with his own mental health. This has become a cause that he is passionate about, advocating for awareness while emphasizing that every life matters.
Yesterday was #WorldMentalHealthDay and we’re proud to partner with @sollythomas90 and his @TDefensiveLine Foundation to support their programs, created with @afspnational, helping teachers connect with their students in crisis with the resources they need. YOUR LIFE MATTERS.@dak pic.twitter.com/geLLZ3uPpl— Faith Fight Finish Foundation (@FFFfoundation4) October 11, 2021
Prescott talked openly about his personal mental health battles in an interview with Graham Bensinger in September 2020, per the Dallas Morning News, revealing the depression that he suffered during a “tough year.”
“All throughout this quarantine and this offseason, I started experiencing emotions I’ve never felt before,” Prescott said. “Anxiety for the main one. And then, honestly, a couple of days before my brother passed, I would say I started experiencing depression. And to the point of, I didn’t want to work out anymore. I didn’t know necessarily what I was going through, to say the least, and hadn’t been sleeping at all.
“It has been a tough year. Been a tough year for me personally. Been a tough year for my family. Been a tough year for this country and this world. It has all been tough.”
Since that dark period in his life following Jace’s death, Dak has done his best to encourage others to talk about their problems and maintain a support system for when times get tough.
“That’s why I come out in front of the mental awareness thing and tell people, men, women, powerful, not powerful, whatever you are, we’ve got to talk,” Prescott told ESPN’s Sage Steele in May. “And it’s an obligation for all of us to listen and to help.”
In September during National Suicide Prevention Month, Prescott went a step further and launched the Ask 4 Help campaign and released a collection of shirts featuring his late brother Jace’s initials to raise money for the Faith Fight Finish Foundation in an effort to prioritize mental health and stop the epidemic of suicide. Dak also had “Ask 4 Help” emblazoned on his wrist tape when the Cowboys took on the Patriots in New England on Oct. 17.
Ask 4️⃣ Help— Dallas Cowboys (@dallascowboys) October 19, 2021
This season, QB1 has been sporting "Ask 4 Help" on his wrist tape as a reminder to those battling with mental illness that their lives matter & they are not alone.
Read more on how you can help ➝ https://t.co/STJF6zPqrd pic.twitter.com/mXNOVfI6sn
Faith Fight Finish was founded to honor the Prescott boys’ mom, Peggy, who passed away from colorectal cancer, as they were the three words that she instilled in her sons.
“Losing my mom and watching her fight motivated me. As much as I can raise awareness and educate people on how to get ahead of cancer, showing how to make your adversity your inspiration is probably the most significant goal,” Dak says in a statement on the site. “It’s about how to face adversity and use it to make you a better person, to think positively and take the better path because of it.”
As the player in the most visible position on the most visible team in the middle of the most-talked about sport in America, Prescott is constantly in the spotlight — meaning that criticism is inevitably aimed at him for just about every single thing that he does. This is partly why it has always been so impressive to see how calm under pressure Prescott has been. He navigates the on-field portions of his job as admirably as the off-the-field aspects.
Throughout all of this, Prescott continues to pursue different passions that are important to him in order to make our world a better place. Sports Illustrated wrote about this before the 2021 season began as they detailed his road to recovery:
Prescott devoted extra time to numerous off-field causes: raising money for a cancer research grant in his mother’s honor, donating $1 million to police training, partnering with three mental health organizations, sponsoring after-school programs. He donated a thousand meals for the homeless. He also wrote to politicians on behalf of a prisoner, Julius Jones, who he believed was wrongfully incarcerated for murder.
The point to all of this was to become a more complete person, in an authentic way. Combat homelessness because he himself had been without a home. “It wasn’t just for football,” he says. “And because I love football, and football has been easy, it allows me to love it even more.”
The word that jumps out there is one that has always described Dak Prescott since Dallas Cowboys fans have come to know him — authentic. Dak is as Dak does and that person, that quarterback, is always someone that the organization has been able to count on, whether it was to win a close game or always know the right thing to say.
Dak Prescott constantly chooses to use his moment in the spotlight to help others, which is what makes him so special. Simply put, there are not a lot of people — let alone football players — like Dak Prescott. The Dallas Cowboys are lucky to have him, and so is the world as a whole.
Click here for more information on the Faith Fight Finish Foundation, and please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 if you need someone to talk to.