SAN ANTONIO – Dak Prescott, the franchise quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys, has faced a variety of struggles prior to even entering the National Football League.
As he enters his fifth season with Dallas, Prescott is opening up about his struggles with mental health and the passing of his brother Jace.
In a recent interview on the show “In Depth with Graham Bensinger," Dak and his brother Tad discuss their brother’s life and passing.
A player known for being a vocal leader both on and off the field, Dak was one that fans at Mississippi State embraced for overcoming adversity.
When long-time starter Tony Romo went down with an injury in a game against the Seattle Seahawks in 2016, Dak again answered a familiar call. However, during the next four years, Dak’s biggest struggle came off of the field, affecting one of the closest members of his family.
“It’s crazy, all throughout this quarantine and this off-season, I started experiencing emotions I’ve never felt before,” Prescott said in the interview with Bensinger. “Anxiety for the main one, and then honestly a couple of days before my brother passed, I would say I started experiencing depression. I didn’t know necessarily what I was going through, to say the least, and hadn’t been sleeping at all and for whatever reason one night I sleep the best I’ve slept. Missing probably 10 plus calls from Tad and giving my Dad enough time to come into my bedroom and tell me what had happened. So, I woke up from probably the best night of sleep I’ve ever had in 2020 to some of the worst news I’ll ever get.”
Dak was used to facing public scrutiny, but dealing with family trauma prompted a dialogue with family members, friends and his teammates.
“Before I can lead I’ve got to make sure that my mind is in the right place to do that... I think that’s important to be vulnerable, to be genuine & to be transparent..."@dak discusses the importance of mental health— Dallas Cowboys (@dallascowboys) September 11, 2020
“I think being a leader is about being genuine and being real. And as I said, if I would not have talked about those things to the people that I did, I wouldn’t realize that a lot of people go through them and they are as common as they are," Prescott said, addressing media members on Sept. 10. “If you’re not mentally healthy, if you’re not thinking the right way, then you’re not going to be able to lead people the right way. So, before I can lead, I’ve got to make sure that my mind is in the right place to do that and lead people in the way they want to be."
The Jones family, the long-time owners of the NFL franchise, supported Dak’s words, calling him “extremely gifted as a leader.” Charlotte J Anderson, Jerry Jone’s daughter, called Dak’s character the true definition of leadership in social media posts.
Definition of a true leader... pic.twitter.com/ordRpse2CK— Charlotte J Anderson (@CJonesAnderson) September 11, 2020
However, not everyone supported Dak’s actions, including media personality Skip Bayless, who attacked the quarterback who he thought used anxiety and depression for shortcomings on the field.
“You’re commanding a lot of young men and some older men and they’re all looking to you to be their CEO to be in charge of the football team. Because of all that, I don’t have sympathy for him going public with: ‘I got depressed, I suffered depression early in COVID to the point I couldn’t work out,'" Bayless said on the show “Undisputed.” “Look, he’s the quarterback. America’s football team, you know and I know, in this sport, it is dog eat dog and if you reveal publicly any little weakness, it can affect your team’s ability to believe in you in the toughest spot.”
Dak Prescott’s brother died in April of an apparent suicide.— CHRIS TORELLO (@TorelloSports) September 10, 2020
Dak battled depression.
Dak showed courage and bravery to maybe help someone who is afraid to speak up.
Skip Bayless has ZERO COMPASSION because Dak plays QB in the #NFL and showing weakness.
Fans and athletes alike have reacted to Bayless’ comments. He has since clarified some of his wordings, but has not issued an apology.
Below are some reactions to both Dak’s strength and Bayless’ comments:
Skip Bayless apologizes to Dak Prescott— T̷R̷O̷Y̷ ̷H̷U̷G̷H̷E̷S̷ (@TommySledge) September 11, 2020
I’m sorry ...
Skip Bayless does not apologize to Dak Prescott pic.twitter.com/59neOKMJ61
S/o to @dak! Real strength is shown through vulnerability. Ppl like Skip are the reason why people suffer from depression at such a high rate! You’re the definition of a punk. Depression is REAL LIFE!— DeMar DeRozan (@DeMar_DeRozan) September 11, 2020
Skip Bayless thinks Dak Prescott is weak for admitting he’s suffered depression following his brother’s suicide and during the Covid-19 pandemic. He says leaders don’t do that.— Rex Chapman🏇🏼 (@RexChapman) September 10, 2020
Leaders help others. Dak is helping teammates and fans alike by speaking up.
Dak Prescott basically said: I'm a human being, I can be vulnerable at times. It's been a really hard year for me, & I want to normalize mental wellness & admitting when we aren't OK.— David Helman (@HelmanDC) September 10, 2020
And Skip Bayless basically said: nah, toxic masulinity is the way for me b/c football.
Watch an excerpt from the interview with Graham Bensinger below: