FRISCO, Texas – One of the oldest adages in football has taken on a new meaning in 2020.
Speaking to reporters for the first time this season, Dak Prescott summed it up nicely.
"As this season gets to playing out, I think part of it is:The healthiest team wins," he said.
In a sport as violent as football, that part has always been true. Teams that avoid serious injuries tend to see that good fortune play out in the standings.
Obviously, things are much different these days. Because, as important as it is to avoid injury, that's not what Prescott was talking about. Instead, he's previewing the dedicated effort it will take to keep the Cowboys' roster clear of COVID-19.
"What's important right now is this football team, this season and not only our health but the health of our families," Prescott said.
To that end, the Cowboys are taking their efforts up a notch. Word surfaced Tuesday evening that many members of the Cowboys' roster are setting up shop in the Omni Frisco Hotel, which is located at The Star and is actually attached to the Cowboys' facility.
Prescott confirmed that he's one of the players taking part in the Cowboys' pseudo "bubble," and he estimated that about 90% of the roster is taking part.
"Yeah,I'm already there," he said. "For me, it's about trying to stay as safe as I can, as healthy as I can without knowing the true future of where this season's going to go. I think it's important for us as players to try to create the biggest bubble -- orthe smallest bubble, I guess you can say -- but a bubble as we can amongst players."
The bubble method has seen some rousing success from other leagues that have used it, from the NBA to the NHL to the MLS. Obviously, it's a bit of a different scenario with football. Those leagues are using a bubble to conduct entire seasons, while NFL teams will eventually have to travel across the country to play games.
In the meantime, though, a hotel bubble presents an opportunity to make it through training camp with minimal problems, and that opportunity is too smart to pass up.
"That's something we've come together as leaders and taken on this option to stay in this hotel," Prescott said. "So we can try and stay healthy, all be there for each other, set an example for the young guys about avoiding downtown, avoiding other people and where people can go."
To be clear, there's no rule at the league or team level that mandates players bubbling at hotels. Participation is voluntary, and Prescott said there are some players who aren't taking part. But by and large, it sounds like those are exceptions – and they come with compelling reasons for not doing so..
"I can't be mad at guys for personal reasons, their family matters, that they may not want to come into the bubble or the hotel," Prescott said. "I know and trust they're being grown men and doing the things they need to do and the things necessary to keep their health safe and to not put themselves in jeopardy of getting this deal and coming in here and giving it to others."
It's a strange thought. Typically, staying healthy in football is as much about good luck as anything else. But in 2020, it's about personal accountability and expecting dozens of players and staffers to make responsible decisions.
There's no way to know what that will look like when the games begin, as the physical nature of the sport and national travel take on huge roles in the process. Prescott didn't know whether the team might try to continue this approach into the season. But by turning their team hotel into a bubble for training camp, the Cowboys are at least giving themselves a great shot to get to that point.
"I think the healthiest team has one of the best shots to win this, so we're going to do the best we can to put ourselves in that small group," Prescott said.