The hearts of Dallas Cowboys fans were heavy when two-time Pro Bowl quarterback Dak Prescott was carted off the field in a game against the New York Giants after he suffered a compound fracture and dislocation of his right ankle. Prescott's season is done, and despite the Cowboys' disappointing start, with only two wins, he was leading the NFL in passing yardage before he got hurt. In addition to rehabbing his injury, the other concern is that he does not have a long-term contract. This season, the franchise tag was applied to Prescott, which guarantees him $31.4 million. That's a nice, hefty sum, but without a contract extension, like the four-year, $160 million deal quarterback Deshaun Watson signed with the Houston Texans in September, Prescott does not have a committed financial investment from the Dallas front office. That said, money is not the main thing on Prescott's mind as he prepares to make a football comeback. In a recent Instagram video showing him on the way to see his doctor, Prescott said that he is "excited for God's purpose and God's plan" in his life.
Celebrities and professional athletes often use the hashtag #God'sPlan in social media posts, but Prescott's sincere expression of his faith stems from the hardships he has endured as a young man. He lost his mother, Peggy, to colon cancer during his sophomore year at Mississippi State, while he was a rising star as the Bulldogs' quarterback. As a single, working mom, Peggy had struggled caring for him and his older brothers, Tad and Jace Prescott. The Prescott boys did not have much, having grown up in a trailer park in rural Haughton, Louisiana, but family love and support for one another more than made up for what they lacked materially. Peggy did not live to see her son become a Heisman candidate in 2014 or lead his team to a No. 1 ranking. In interviews, Prescott has shared how his mother told him, "Allow me to be your story." Even through her suffering and death, she wanted faith to be the center of Prescott's life, as well as Tad's and Jace's. Prescott lost Jace to suicide in April. It is evident that his foundation in God has sustained him through both tragedies.
If you've followed Prescott's career, you know that he values more in life than just winning on the football field and inking a fat contract. Of course he wants to bring a sixth Super Bowl championship to Dallas and restore the team to the '90s glory years, something I, as a lifelong Cowboys fan, am hoping for. However, what makes Prescott special as a star player is that he views himself as a servant of his community. He is a role model for his young fans not just because he is the face of the Cowboys but because he generously gives of his time and money to better the lives of others. His Faith Fight Finish foundation focuses on hunger and social justice initiatives and supports those battling cancer. Prescott serves meals at the Salvation Army and hosts football camps. One touching story involved his befriending a young boy named Kendrell Daniels at camp in Starkville, Mississippi, two years ago. Kendrell had not showed up to camp with dreams of playing in the NFL, for he was born with no arms. But he has another God-given gift: He is an artist who paints with his feet. And he is probably Prescott's No. 1 fan.
Prescott mentioned in his Instagram video that the adversity he is facing is "just going to be another chapter in the book" and that he is "seeing the game in a different perspective." As he takes time to recover and keep his body in game shape, I truly believe he will emerge stronger in spirit. He will have more time with the Word of God to discover what the divine plan for his life entails. And whatever it is, Prescott is uniquely ordained to fulfill it.
Dr. Jessica A. Johnson is a lecturer in the English department at Ohio State University's Lima campus. Email her at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter: @JjSmojc. To find out more about Jessica Johnson and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.