It’s been a season of firsts for former Haughton star Dak Prescott, who just completed his rookie season as the starting quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys.
Sunday will be another one.
Prescott is one of seven Cowboys on the NFC roster for the annual Pro Bowl in Orlando, Fla., the NFL’s annual all-star game.
He was one of three NFC quarterbacks selected. The other two are Atlanta’s Matt Ryan, who was named the starter, and Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers.
Ryan’s Falcons advanced to the Super Bowl with a victory over Rodgers’ Packers on Sunday, so Ryan won’t be playing in the Pro Bowl. New Orleans Saints veteran Drew Brees replaced him.
Rodgers also isn’t playing. He was replaced by Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins.
Three Dallas offensive linemen were selected — tackle Tyron Smith, guard Zack Martin and center Travis Frederick.
Those three and Prescott’s fellow rookie, running back Ezekiel Elliott, were named starters.
Dallas linebacker Sean Lee has replaced Seattle’s Luke Kuechly (injury). Dez Bryant has replaced Atlanta Falcons receiver Julio Jones.
The Pro Bowl rosters are determined by a consensus vote of fans, players and coaches.
Prescott completed 311 of 459 passes for 3,667 yards and 23 touchdowns with just four interceptions in the regular season. He led the Cowboys to a 13-3 record. Dallas lost to Green Bay 34-31 in a divisional playoff game on Jan. 15.
In an interview with media last month, Prescott said his selection was “humbling.” He gave credit to his teammates for his success, including Elliott, the three Pro Bowl linemen and his receivers, Bryant and Cole Beasley among them.
“Definitely wouldn’t be able to do it without this team,” he said. “I’ve just got great playmakers around me that just allow me to have fun out there.”
In an interview the day after the season ended, Prescott said he was looking forward to the experience.
“I’ll enjoy it,” he said. “I’ll soak it all up, learn a lot from the other quarterbacks and the other players in general.”
Prescott will have more familiar faces than just his teammates on hand. Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett and his staff are handling NFC coaching duties
The Pro Bowl is also reverting to its traditional NFC vs. AFC format after three years of using other formats.
The game itself has come under criticism in recent years because of the perceived lack of effort among the players who obviously want to avoid being injured.
It was moved to Orlando from its longtime site of Honolulu after last year’s game.
Practices are being held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World. A parade of Pro Bowl players in Disney World’s Magic Kingdom theme park is just one of the activities surrounding the game.
The players were also encouraged to invite their high school or youth league coaches to the festivities. Participants on the winning team will earn a grant from the NFL Foundation to aid in the development of their high school programs, according to an NFL press release.
Prescott invited his former head coach at Haughton, Rodney Guin. Guin is now the head coach at Calvary Baptist.
Many of the Pro Bowlers will compete in the Pro Bowl Skills Showdown, “pitting NFC and AFC all-stars against each other in unique competitions,” according to a press release.
It will be broadcast on ESPN on Thursday starting at 6 p.m. A mix of quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, tight ends, linemen, linebackers and defensive backs will compete, according to the release.
— Russell Hedges, firstname.lastname@example.org