Dak Prescott is the Dallas Cowboys nominee for the 2021 Walter Payton Man of the Year award. His work in mental health awareness for the public and in removing the stigma around mental health discussions in professional sports made him an easy choice.
Each NFL team puts up one of their players as a team winner, and then an overall recipient is selected among that group. The award, started in 1970, recognizes philanthropic and humanitarian efforts outside of football but also excellence on the field.
The Cowboys' last Man of the Year was Jason Witten in 2012. Troy Aikman was recognized in 1997 and Roger Staubach received it in 1978.
Especially now during the COVID-19 pandemic, mental health has been a major issue for entire society. It hit home for Prescott in 2020 when his older brother Jace committed suicide.
Dak opened up last year about his struggles dealing with Jace's death and overall mental health. This led to open dialogue in other sectors of the sports world and even an on-field meeting between Prescott and Falcons TE Hayden Hurst last year, captured by media, where Hurst thanked Dak for his honesty and promised to help the cause.
Even if he's not ultimately picked among his 32 peers, Dak Prescott deserves all the praise for his efforts towards this important cause.