It is almost as certain as the sun rising
in the east and setting in the west. The most popular player in every NFL city is … you know this … wait for it … it’s the backup quarterback.
There have been exceptions over the years. In the Dallas Cowboys’ Super Bowl season of 1993, nobody was calling for Bernie Kosar to replace Troy Aikman. Still, it was nice to know he was there as a capable replacement. By the late ‘90s, Jason Garrett had moved up the chain from third quarterback to number two. Still, even in the late stages of Aikman’s career, there was no discussion about making a change.
For six years after Aikman retired, there was no quarterback controversy because few Cowboys fans liked the starter or the backup. In the six-year span between Aikman and Tony Romo, there were eight different starters. The list: Ryan Leaf, Anthony Wright, Clint Stoerner, Quincy Carter, Drew Henson, Drew Bledsoe, Chad Hutchinson and Vinny Testaverde.
In many of those years, one name on that list was the starter and another the back up, and neither got the job done. There was no controversy then, just apathy.
As we went to press with this issue,
the Cowboys were looking at a good, old-fashioned quarterback controversy. This one is unique, too. Typically, the back up is a guy we think we will like, but he is also a guy we have not seen much.
This year, we got a good look at the second string quarterback, and we liked what we saw. Dak Prescott is the quarterback of the future for the Cowboys.
Rayne Dakota “Dak” Prescott was not expected to be this good. If he was, the Cowboys and several other teams would have taken him long before the 135th pick in last years NFL Draft.
He was a fourth-round draft pick, not that there is any shame in that. Here is a list of guys who were all selected in the fourth round: Sonny Jurgensen, John Stallworth, Steve Largent and Charles Haley. Each of those guys have something else in common: They are all in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
That is not to say that Dak is headed to Canton. But, if he improves upon his start to the season and stays healthy, he has a chance. Anyone who starts his career in a record-setting fashion has a chance to be among the best to ever play the game. Still, as good as he has been on the field, perhaps the most impressive thing Dak has done is defer. That is, he deferred to the order of things, he deferred to the starting quarterback, and in so doing, he deflected, as much as he could, the controversy.
When opposing defenses are rushing him
and trying to confuse him, Dak has shown poise and patience. When the media throng has rushed at him and tried to create controversy, he has shown class and dignity. “This is Tony’s team,” Prescott says. “I knew that going into the situation. I think everybody knew that.”
Many feel that it would be wise for Tony to hang up the shoulder pads. He has given so much, and the violent nature of the game has taken so much. But that is not Tony. He is among the more competitive professional athletes I have ever met. He will not go quietly into the night unless the doctors advise him to do so. And so the controversy rages, on the outside, but not inside the beautiful new walls of The Star.
“I really don’t think guys pay attention to that whole controversy or whatever you want to call it,” Prescott says. “We come in each and every day, and we worry about the guys who are playing this week and the guys that have to come in and help this team win. That is really our main focus.”
Poise in the pocket, poise in the locker room, poise from every corner. Whenever the sun does set on Tony Romo’s career, Dak will be ready, and there is nothing controversial about that.