Dak Prescott's road back to the field on this year's season of Hard Knocks has taken an in-depth look at the inner workings of NFL football and its players.
Hard Knocks creates an experience like no other by taking a camera crew to follow an NFL team for training camp and the weeks leading up to the season. In three episodes, Prescott’s story has analyzed how much players are willing to risk their bodies for the team, and how little they seem to get in return.
Prescott is coming off a season of continuous obstacles and hardships, but as the quarterback and leader of the team, there is little room for mistakes and even less time to get ready to play again.
In April 2020, Prescott’s older brother committed suicide. In the weeks leading up to the season, Prescott opened up to the media about the new feelings and experiences that came with his brother's death in an interview with People magazine.
“Anxiety for the main one,” Prescott said. “And then, honestly, a couple of days before my brother passed, I would say I started experiencing depression."
While still dealing with the unimaginable loss, Prescott started his season with the Cowboys.
During a game against the New York Giants in the middle of the season, Prescott’s leg got caught under a Giants defender. When he got up from the play, his right foot and ankle were completely turned, facing the right. That was the end of his season. He was carted off the field openly showing a wave of emotions as he waved goodbye to fans and teammates.
The very first scene of the Hard Knocks episode shows Prescott sitting in an interview chair, talking about his scars, mentally and physically. Scars which were leftover from last season, with the scar from two surgeries on his ankle visible on screen.
Not even halfway through the second practice of training camp, Prescott has an injury to his arm that puts him out for the rest of training camp. Just like that, he is right back where he started.
As a player, Prescott has absolutely no time to rest physically and mentally on the show.
He must go back to sitting on the sidelines, helping the backup quarterback get ready for preseason games.
In the NFL and all of football, “next man up,” is almost a mantra. When one person gets hurt, the next man must be ready to step up to play, and the team doesn’t miss a beat. This mantra is shown at work in the first several episodes with Prescott.
From the perspective of the team — everything must go on, but the intimate look at Prescott highlights another side to football. With one injury, athletes’ careers can be over since there’s always someone else ready to take your spot.