The Talk of Fame Network’s eight-part series on where each division stands going into the NFL’s summer break journeys into the hyper-competitive NFC East this week … and who better to look at it than Dallas Cowboys’ quarterback Dak Prescott?
Prescott was the surprise story of the 2016 season, replacing long-time Cowboys’ quarterback Tony Romo when Romo and backup Kellen Moore were injured prior to the season. It appeared the sky was falling in Dallas, but, instead, a star was rising as the fourth-round draft choice from Mississippi State stepped in and won 13 games and the NFC East title.
With Romo now forced into retirement, Prescott is the leader of a young Dallas team that must cope with the improved New York Giants, who went 11-5 last season, as well as the Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins.
What was the toughest part for a rookie quarterback who made it all look easy?
“Just the terminology,’’ said Prescott, who ran a no-huddle offense at Mississippi State. “I had to take those long plays and spit them out to the whole team. It was tough at first.’’
Tougher, it seemed, than adjusting to running the intricate Dallas offense or playing on the road in hostile places like Green Bay, Pittsburgh, Washington and Minnesota. What prepared him for that?
“Crazy as it is in those NFL stadiums (they) don’t get a quarter as loud as third down in Alabama, third down at Auburn or LSU,’’ the SEC-bred Prescott said. “Alabama is a pro stadium. LSU is just huge, and the fans are ridiculous. And Auburn is kind of personable. You’re eye level with their fans.
“You get to Lambeau Field or Heinz Field, and it’s just another game. I’d played at Alabama three years.’’
One costly part of Prescott’s rapid rise in Dallas came at his father’s expense. A life-long Cowboys’ fan growing up in Shreveport, La., Dak said it was “a dream come true’’ to be drafted by the Cowboys. But it required some wardrobe adjustments for his father.
“(Dallas was) pretty much the home team for us,’’ Prescott said. “My Dad runs to the closet and comes back with five of his Cowboys’ jerseys. Now he only has one choice. Well, he has two — white or blue. but it’s number 4.’’
They’ll be a lot of number 4 jerseys worn in Dallas this season as they battle the Giants, Redskins and Eagles in what is one of the most competitive divisions in football. Our Hall-of-Fame co-hosts Rick Gosselin, Ron Borges and Clark Judge debate who’s best with Cowboys’ beat writer Todd Archer of ESPN.com, the New York Post’s Paul Schwartz and Paul Domowitch of the Philadelphia Daily News. Not surprisingly, they don’t agree on who rules the roost in 2017.
Neither does former Washington Redskins’ running back Larry Brown. Brown was an NFL MVP, led the league in rushing and went to four Pro Bowls before injuries cut his career short, but not before he got to play for the NFL’s most famous coach, Vince Lombardi.
Named one of the 70 greatest Redskins of all-time, Brown somehow has never managed to have his case heard in Canton for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. But he has renewed hope that may happen after this year’s enshrinement of former Denver Broncos’ running back Terrell Davis.
“I thought all you needed to do was make a significant contribution to the game,’’ Brown said of his Hall-of-Fame exclusion. “It bothers me.’’
Brown said he does not believe longevity should be a major factor in Hall of Fame inclusion and is hopeful that the similarity between his career and Davis’ will play a factor in reviving his candidacy.
There’s all that and more on the Talk of Fame Network, and you can hear it all on SB Nation radio Wednesday nights from 8-10 p.m., by downloading the TuneIn app or going to iTunes to get our free podcast. You can also hear this week’s show and our past shows and interviews by going to talkoffamenetwork.com and clicking on the show of your choice.