Sports

Dak Prescott’s Football Journey Is Guided By ‘Faith, Fight, And Finish’


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SHREVEPORT, La. – Dak Prescott has one number and three words to honor his mother, his family, and his home. Peggy, who died of colon cancer in 2013 when Dak was at Mississippi State, was born on the fourth of September, and he chose his number with the Cowboys – 4 – for her. But it was the words she gave to each of her three boys that carry them and have strengthened their bonds as they’ve looked out for one another ever since.

Dak, Tad, and Jace were each given a word by Peggy, and they hold those words close, as well as tattooing their names on each other’s bodies. For Jace, it was “Finish.” For Tad, “Fight.” And for Dak, “Faith.”

“Everything we do we just keep her in mind,” Dak says from Independence Stadium, where he and his brothers made lasting memories on the football field. “I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for her.”

Prescott recently filmed a Campbell’s Chunky Soup commercial just miles from where he made a name for himself at Haughton High School. He brought Tad and Jace into the shoot to reinforce the idea of home, a feeling that has only crystalized as Prescott has gotten older and continued his career with the Cowboys (one that should lead to a big payday soon as the two sides continue contract negotiations). Home isn’t just a sense of place for the Prescott brothers; it’s an exhale, a chance to let their guards down and reconnect with each other. Once there, the joking starts, the silences don’t seem as uncomfortable, and the old stories start flowing.
The gas station that has ice cream that tastes just like their grandmother’s banana pudding. The fishing trips. The everything pizza they had shipped to Dallas. The time they wrestled and broke the closet door. That game when coach threw all the chairs in the locker room right here in Independence Stadium.

Late June wasn’t just a chance to film a commercial and to bring his brothers into it for Dak; it was an opportunity to live out what Peggy always wanted for her boys — to show that home never leaves you, the same way a tattoo is on your body forever. Uproxx spoke with Dak about those three words so near and dear to his heart — faith, fight, and finish — as well as football and family from Shreveport.

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You have the opportunity to bring a shoot like this here. You could do it in Dallas easy, you could do it in L.A., or New York, but you get to do it right here.

Honestly, it’s something I was thinking about earlier, I was sitting out there on that field. I played in this stadium probably every year from third grade to senior year in high school, so to be here to look at all that, think about all the memories me even watching my brothers play here, to myself playing, to fast forward and now we’re here shooting a Campbell’s spot. It’s a blessing. I mean, it’s crazy. I don’t know if I would have thought when I was eight years old watching these boys play on that field out there that I’d be back here one day shooting a Chunky Soup commercial with my two brothers. So it’s awesome.

What does home mean to you, now that you’ve had a few years where you’re a pro? You’re making Dallas your new home, create that for yourself. But coming back, memories always come back to you.

Yeah, definitely. Coming back home, the memories come back at you fresh. It’s refreshing, it keeps me grounded, definitely keeps me humbled. Drove by yesterday, the house I grew up in and lived in, saw our neighbor from across the street, and those things right there just put life in perspective. As I said, just refreshing and grounding.

Having your brothers in your life, this close, not everyone has that opportunity, but it seems like you guys are growing for different reasons. You’ve gotten tighter, you’ve gotten more connected, it’s that situation where it comes from family for you. Or is a situation where you guys just know what you have now, and you can be as competitive as you were as a kid, those people close to you matter.

I think it’s a little bit of all of it. I mean, I know it’s definitely just the way we were raised, the way my mom raised us. Making sure that we were tight then, and making sure that we always had each other’s back, but, as you said, as you get older, as you mature, as you get a full perspective on life and have that full outlook on life, you see what your brothers mean. You see who they are, you mature, they mature, and your relationships grow closer. Relationships grow close, and like you said, we’ve been through a lot, and we don’t have our mom but we’ll always have each other, but we’re all tattooed in each other’s skin and it’s even deeper than that.

When did you guys get those tattoos? Obviously, towards the end, those three words, you know, they become rallying cries for you guys.

Those three words are definitely rallying cries. Those three words were more of what my mom left us for us to continue to live life, with those words, continue to live life being, for Tad, a fighter, for Jace being a finisher, and for me, having faith. But it’s also the things that she always saw in us from the beginning. So, those three words are actually near and dear, but I guess I was fifteen when I got my brothers tattooed on me, on each arm. So that makes them twenty, twenty-one at the time, and we all got it done together for a Christmas present for my mom.

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When it comes to that relationship and what you have, do you think having siblings has made you a better teammate over the years?

A hundred percent. Having brothers has made me a better teammate. We’re all so tight anyways, so close, and we competed, and I think they taught me from an early age when you compete, and when you push, the guy next to you … not only do you make him better, but you get better. So my brothers taught me that and showed me that first. They showed me what it means to pick a guy up when he’s down, or to help a guy when he’s not having a good day, or to pull the best out of him. They taught me that from a young, young age, and they also taught me just from watching them that you lead by action. Words means nothing if you can’t back it up with the way you walk, and, so, definitely. Never thought about that.

Do you have any examples of times where, either at Mississippi State or high school, or even with the Cowboys, where you have picked up a guy when they’ve really been down like that?

Every day, probably. I mean, being a quarterback, you’re always not necessarily going to manage to do that, but I have relationships with all of my teammates, and I mean, it happens pretty much every day. I’ve been in situations where a teammate’s lost a parent, and I’ve been able to reflect on my situation and be able to give them some insight on how to feel, or necessarily feel however you want to feel. Nobody can tell you anything, so. A lot of things I’ve been through in life, even watching my brothers, the diversity I’ve experienced has guided me and helped me tremendously to help teammates.

How have you worked on continuing to grow from a leadership perspective? Because a lot of that comes naturally for you, just charisma or just being someone who leads by example.

You’ve got to stay on top of it. Different ways of leadership are always being discovered. As you said, yeah, sure, I’ve been blessed, I’ve kind of got a little bit of it naturally, the charisma, it’s natural. But I also went to school for that, and that’s the reason I studied psychology, is because I wanted to learn how people are motivated or how they’re not motivated. And it’s amazing what a book can tell you. Then taking my Master’s degree, and working towards leadership, another way that you can sit there and say, “Wow, I didn’t realize this or realize that.” But I’m always learning. There’s times when I got to events or Pro Bowls and you get to talk to other NFL players and leaders across the League, and just for them to tell you things. People are always growing and maturing mentally, so your leadership ability has to as well.

Are you a podcast guy?

No.

Any specific books or websites when it comes to that stuff?

No, not necessarily. It’s more of just my interactions and things I’ve been through, and just remembering those to maybe help a relationship further down the road.

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It really seems like the relationship with Amari Cooper is the perfect example. Growing, enhancing that, it’s something where he wasn’t a teammate for very long and you guys found a way to bond.

No, definitely. I think that’s a great example. When he got here Amari was more of a quiet guy. You have to get to know him, and he has to get to know you, but I mean, it went from him not saying much to, I mean, now we talk every single day. It’s crazy how that relationship has grown.

From a psychological perspective, do you take that approach into quarterbacking on some ways? Obviously, off the field in relationships, but when you are approaching film study, things like that, are there any of those tactics that you take?

Everything I do, I do it with a little bit of thought and insight in how it’s going to help me on the field as well. So, when you’re building relationships, you’ve got to think about what that player does, how that player can help you, or hurt you there or not there on the field. So, all of it ties in.

I know you always take in bits and pieces away from different guys in the league that you like. What were you most proud of that you added from year one to year three, and what are you trying to elevate?

I want to be the best that ever played the game, and I want to be the best that I can. So for me, it’s not about singling out any one area, but I don’t know if it’s my third year in and having this experience, but I’ve been able to see the field, and see the defense, and the way things are going to happen. Crazy clear, amazingly clear. So that, and just the time I spend into my footwork and getting my body right to make every throw and really take strides.

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Have you ever thought about coaching?

Yeah, 100 percent. I don’t know if there’s any better feeling than being able to coach somebody, teach somebody how to do something, how they should do something, and then go and watch them apply that and do exactly that. So definitely.

What do you want people to take away from this area, where you’ve got good people, you’ve got good food, etc.? What does it mean to represent this area of the country, this specific region?

You just said it right there. The good people, the good food. We’re talking Louisiana, so if you have that, you’re okay, but definitely just good people. You come here, there’s not much to see. One thing you’re gonna find is, you’re gonna find real people, genuine people. People that are going to be there for you through adversity, through success, and not necessarily change on you. That’s one of my main focuses when I come back home is making sure those people — those real people that I know, that I love and care for — feel that, and know nothing has changed.

Uproxx was hosted in Shreveport by Chunky Soup for reporting on this piece. However, Chunky Soup did not review or approve this story in any way. You can find out more about our policy on press trips/hostings here.

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