Dak Prescott

Dak Prescott Opens Up About Brother's Suicide, Life Off the Field

The Cowboys are preparing to open up their 2020 season against the Los Angeles Rams on NBC Sunday Night Football

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Sunday night on NBC 5, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott is the featured guest on "In Depth with Graham Bensinger" and gives Graham a behind-the-scenes look at his home, favorite places to ride off-road vehicles and fish, and even explains why he had a football field built in his backyard.

“My whole life I’ve just known hard work is the answer,” Prescott said. “Especially during quarantine, it was tough to find somewhere to throw. Got the idea to put this in my backyard. It’s something I’ve always dreamed about.”

But the interview also includes Prescott opening up about his brother, Jace, who died by suicide earlier in 2020.

“Honestly, a couple of days before my brother passed, I started experiencing depression,” Prescott said. “I didn’t know what I was going through, to say the least, and hadn’t been sleeping at all. But for one night, I sleep the best I’ve slept, missing ten-plus calls from (my brother) and giving my dad enough time to come in my bedroom and tell me what happened. So I woke up after the best night of sleep I’ve had in 2020 from the worst news, some of the worst news I’ll ever get.”

In the interview, Prescott also shares a word of encouragement he hopes makes an impact on others struggling with mental illness.

“Our adversity, our struggles, what we go through, it’s always going to be too much for ourselves,” Prescott said. “It may be too much for one or two people. But it’s never too much for a community or for the people in the family you love. So we have to share those things.”

The Prescott brothers endured the death of their mother, Peggy, who died of colon cancer when Dak Prescott was a sophomore at Mississippi State in 2013.

Dak Prescott said he knew Jace Prescott bore the greatest burden as their mom’s primary caregiver while she battled cancer. Jace Prescott died at 31 in the southeast Texas city of Orange in April.

The youngest of three brothers, Dak Prescott said the pandemic was a struggle because he’s a people person who thrives through interacting with and trying to inspire others.

Fox sports commentator Skip Bayless criticized Prescott’s admission, saying on his TV show he had no sympathy for the 2016 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year and that it was a sign of weakness for the leader of the franchise.

After Bayless’ comments were blasted on Twitter, Fox issued a statement praising the quarterback and saying it didn’t agree with what Bayless said.

“We have addressed the significance of this matter with Skip and how his insensitive comments were received by people internally at FOX Sports and our audience,” the network said.

Asked whether he should hide such feelings as a leader, Prescott said no.

“I think that is a fake leader,” said Prescott, who starts his fifth season Sunday night in the first game at the new home of the Los Angeles Rams. “Being a leader is about being genuine and being real. Before I even lead, I have to make sure my mind is in the right place to do that and lead people to where they want to be. I think that is important — to be vulnerable, to be genuine and to be transparent.”

Prescott said in the TV interview he thought he might be experiencing depression just a few days before his older brother’s death. Prescott said he hadn’t been sleeping well before his father woke him up from one of his best nights of sleep in a long time with news of Jace Prescott’s suicide.

“I mean, obviously tears and tears and tears,” Dak Prescott said. “I mean, I sat there and tried to gather what had happened and wanted to ask why for so many reasons. As much as you want to ask why as much as this, I mean, I know my brother, and as we said, he had a lot of burdens on him.”

Prescott said he hopes he can help others by acknowledging a difficult offseason mentally. He also had an unsettled situation with his contract, and didn’t get a long-sought multiyear deal that will be worth more than $100 million if it ever gets completed. The two-time Pro Bowler is playing this season on the $31 million franchise tag.

In part because of that huge pay raise (he made $2 million in the last year of his rookie deal), Prescott is quick to say he knows many others were struggling with similar emotions in the pandemic.

“I don’t want to sit here and dwell on the things that were a struggle for me when I know I’m very fortunate and blessed and other people have it much more worse,” he said. “But just to be transparent about it, that even in my situation, emotions and those type of things can overcome you if you don’t do something about it.”

If you or someone you know needs help, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is open 24 hours a day. Call 1-800-273-8255. You can also text “HOME” to 741-741.

Schuyler Dixon from The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Copyright NBC 5 News and The Associated Press
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