FRISCO, TX — With the 135th-overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, the Dallas Cowboys selected Dak Prescott, quarterback, Mississippi State. On this coming Sunday, when he faces the Arizona Cardinals, Prescott will take the field for what will be his 100th career start — a far cry from when he took the field as the Cowboys' starter for the first time on Sept. 11, 2016 against the New York Giants.
On a road that's included a list of ups-and-downs, the two-time Pro Bowler is thankful to still be around, also the longest tenured active quarterback in the entire NFC.
"It's a blessing, it really is," said Prescott. "I grew up wanting to play this game, wanting to play this game at its highest level — that's simply what this league is — to think back and see that I've had 99 at-bats and this would be the 100th, it's pretty cool. Being the physical game it is, knowing how hard it is to play and stay in this league, yeah, it's something special."
His first outing saw him and the Cowboys fall to the Giants with a 20-19 final score, one of only two times he's suffered a loss to the Giants in his eight-year career (both in that season and not a single time since).
He threw 45 times and finished with 227 yards with no turnovers.
"My first start? It was a loss, unfortunately," he recalled. "But I think I started out pretty fast out of the gate — being able to get the ball out to some guys — I remember [Cole Beasley] having a day. It was fun at AT&T Stadium, but to be on 100 and to be on the road, hopefully 100 more to go."
Prescott has seen his share of injury since taking the reins as Cowboys' franchise QB in the wake of a preseason injury that all but ended the Tony Romo era in Dallas.
A fractured ankle robbed him of the large majority of the 2020 season, he battled a preseason baseball-esque throwing injury in 2021, and he missed four games early in the 2022 season with a fractured thumb.
He's as healthy as he's ever been as the Cowboys try to move to 3-0 in 2023, however. Asked if his body reminds him that he's entering his 100th start, Prescott was refreshingly honest.
"Certain days, hell yeah," the 30-year-old said while wearing a huge grin. "Certain days it feels like a lot more than 100, but mentally and some days, physically, not at all. I do feel young. As I've knocked on wood and said I'm feeling healthy and being healthy, and I'm thankful for that.
"I put a lot of work into that, so to be where I am, as I said, let's hope for another 100."
In an exclusive interview with Prescott during this year's training camp, Prescott was posed the question regarding the ultimate mission of the Cowboys, i.e., if this is a "Super Bowl or bust" season.
His answer was definitive and unequivocal, so when assessing what he has and has not accomplished in his first 100 starts, you could probably guess how he feels.
"I haven't achieved what I want," he said. "The ultimate goal [is] the Super Bowl. Any personal goal is not anything I've really set out to go and get. Those things just come when you take care of what you're supposed to take care of and be the player you're supposed to be. I'm not quite to where I want to be, at all. Hopefully, it doesn't take 100 more starts.
"I've got some more at-bats this year and we're going at it full steam."