Dak Prescott’s gameday jersey will look a little bit different from now on, for as long as he’s in the NFL.
The Cowboys quarterback will be given the special jersey patch that signifies him as a recipient of the NFL’s most prestigious honor, the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award. Prescott was named the award’s winner for the 2022 season at NFL Honors in Phoenix on Thursday.
The annual award recognizes commitment to philanthropy and community service as well as excellence on the football field. Prescott had been the Cowboys’ nominee three times in the past five years.
The quarterback’s Faith Fight Finish (FFF) Foundation is a multi-pronged outreach effort that addresses several areas that have touched Prescott’s life directly, including cancer research, mental health awareness and suicide prevention, bridging the gap between law enforcement and communities, and offering help to those facing life-challenging hardships.
To the man doing everything he can 4️⃣ his community, we salute @dak as the 2022 NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year. 👏👏👏#DallasCowboys | @Nationwide | #NFLHonors pic.twitter.com/X8tfqV7GGn
— Dallas Cowboys (@dallascowboys) February 10, 2023
Following an emotional video package narrated by actor Susan Sarandon, Prescott took the stage Thursday night and thanked his family, friends, and teammates, as well as the Cowboys organization and his foundation’s support staff.
He also acknowledged the Cowboys’ former recipients of the award, Roger Staubach (1978), Troy Aikman (1997), and Jason Witten (2012).
“These are men who I look up to and have learned so much from,” Prescott said. “Being recognized alongside them, I will never take for granted. It’s something I’ll take pride in forever.”
But his speech highlighted his late mother Peggy, who Prescott said “was and still is my moral compass.” His charitable work off the football field, he explained, is his way of sharing her strength and courage with the world.
The foundation he started in her honor in 2017 as a cancer research program broadened its scope to also include mental health awareness after Prescott’s older brother Jace died by suicide in 2020.
“I made a promise,” Prescott said Thursday, “that it would be one life taken to save millions.”
Prescott stressed that his extensive community work will only grow in scope as his football career continues.
“I gain strength, I gain motivation by seeing so many of our beneficiaries who are meeting the defining moments in their lives with grace and courage. I strive to create empathy every day, and I learn so much from those I give [to], including how much more there is to be done. I’m grateful every day for the opportunity to continue to chase the legacy of Walter Payton and the former Man of the Year winners. I draw so much inspiration from each of you who represent the immense potential that we have as NFL players to make an impact on this community and the world.”
The Walter Payton Man of the Year Award winner is traditionally recognized during a Super Bowl pregame ceremony; Prescott will also receive a $250,000 donation in his name to the charity of his choosing. And he’ll be issued that special uniform patch to wear on his jersey for the rest of his playing career.
But, as Prescott said, he hopes that when it’s all said and done someday, it’s the patch that gets remembered even more so than the silver and blue uniform it adorned.
“I hope that when I finish this game, they say, ‘He was a hell of a football player, but he was a much better person.’”