Wednesday was a memorable day for Dak Prescott. The 28-year-old quarterback met with the media for the first time since agreeing to a four-year, $160 million extension with the Dallas Cowboys earlier this week, a contract that comes just months after he suffered a gruesome ankle injury that ended his 2020 season prematurely.
During the hour-plus media session, Prescott thanked former Washington Football Team quarterback Alex Smith for being an inspiration to him as he battled through his own recovery.
"I have to thank, honestly, Alex Smith," Prescott said. "Because at that moment when you're sitting there, and you have an injury like that or you come out of surgery, to see somebody who's already done it and did it actually in worse circumstances, that allowed my mind to go straight to 'I can do this. I'm going to beat this, it's just a matter of time. What are the doctors saying? But I'm going to beat this.'"
Prescott, of course, is referring to the remarkable return to football Smith made this past fall. Smith took the field for Washington fewer than two years after suffering a life-threatening leg injury, one that required 17 surgeries and limb salvage in his right leg.
Smith not only returned to football but played the best of any Washington quarterback last season. The 36-year-old went 5-1 as a starter and played an instrumental role in leading the Burgundy and Gold to their first NFC East title in five years. Washington has since released the passer, though, as head coach Ron Rivera said it was the best decision for the franchise moving forward.
"I have to thank Alex for somebody who has overcome that and won Comeback Player of the Year. Congrats to him," Prescott said.
The Cowboys star didn't suffer nearly as gruesome of an injury as Smith, as he said, but it was still one that has required surgery and months of rehab. Prescott said Wednesday that he's still not fully healthy, but he will be "when it matters."
The two situations aren't exactly identical, either. Smith was financially secured when he suffered the injury, as he was in the first year of a multi-season extension. Prescott, on the other hand, played the 2020 season under the franchise tag -- one worth $31 million -- but with no long-term security.
Prescott is now one of the highest-paid quarterbacks in the NFL. While some thought him playing the 2020 season under the tag was a gamble for the QB, the former Mississippi State star never saw it that way.
"If you know my story, where I'm from and the support I've had and the belief that people have instilled in me, nah," Prescott said. "As cliché as it is, and I'll say it again, I'm insulted when people say I gambled because you get out what you put into something. I've given so much and I'm going to continue to give because that's how you reap the reward."