NFL

Dak Prescott and Hayden Hurst Put Aside Their On-Field Differences For Something Bigger Than Football

For 60 minutes on Sunday, NFL relationships are put on hold. While every player has friends around the league, there’s no time for fraternizing with the enemy; once the first whistle blows, it’s time for business. After the game, though, players can let their guard down and have some legitimate conversations. Just look at Dak Prescott and Hayden Hurst.

On Sunday, the Dallas Cowboys and the Atlanta Falcons duked it out, with America’s Team pulling off a comeback for the ages. Once the contest ended, though, Prescott and Hurst were able to put their competitive natures aside and come together for something bigger than football.

The Dallas Cowboys broke the Atlanta Falcons’ heart on Sunday

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On paper, a Week 2 matchup between the Atlanta Falcons and the Dallas Cowboys shouldn’t have been must-see TV. In reality, though, an unbelievable series of events unfolded in Texas.

After dropping their opening game to the LA Rams, the Cowboys got off to the worst possible start against the Falcons. They fumbled the ball four times in the first quarter and fell behind 20-0. Atlanta, however, wasn’t able to cruise to victory.

In a performance reminiscent of their infamous Super Bowl collapse, the Falcons let Dallas back into the game. Things culminated with a bizarre onside kick; Atlanta’s hands team simply stared at the ball, allowing it to roll 10-yards before the Cowboys recovered it. A last-second field goal gave America’s Team an improbably win.

Dak Prescott previously opened up about his brother’s suicide

From afar, NFL players can seem like real-life superheroes, capable of performing incredible feats of strength every Sunday. Earlier this offseason, though, Dak Prescott reminded everyone that pro athletes are still human.

In April, the Cowboys announced that Prescott’s brother, Jace, had unexpectedly died. That story, to some extent, faded away, until the even of the NFL season.

Dak sat down with Graham Bensingner and confirmed that Jace had died by suicide. The quarterback also explained that he, for all of his fame and fortune, he had been “experiencing depression;” that combination of events inspired him to shine the spotlight on the importance of mental health.

“It showed me how vulnerable we have to be as humans—how open we have to be,” Prescott told Bensinger. “Our adversities, our struggles, what we go through is always gonna be too much for ourselves and maybe too much for even one or two people, but never too much for a community or never too much for the people in the family that you love. So you have to share these things.”

Falcons tight end Hayden Hurst has nothing but respect for Dak Prescott

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For 60 minutes on Sunday, the Dallas Cowboys and Atlanta Falcons slugged it out, trying to win a game of football. Once the final whistle sounded, however, tight end Hayden Hurst had a new goal: approaching Dak Prescott and sharing an important message.

“My uncle killed himself. My cousin killed himself. And I had my own stuff with addiction and my attempted suicide,” Hurst told ESPN’s Vaughn McClure. “I know how much courage it takes to come out and talk about that. And for a guy like [Skip Bayless] to blast Dak on his show, on national television, I think that’s just wrong. So I wanted to go up to Dak and talk to him and tell him how much I appreciated it.”

So after the game, Hurst did just that. As the Cowboys were making their way off the field, the tight end ran over to Prescott; their exchange was captured on video and shared on the Atlanta Falcons’ Twitter account.

“Hey, I’ve got a lot of respect for what you did, came out and talked about,” Hurst told Prescott. “Me and my mom have a foundation [the Hayden Hurst Foundation] about suicide prevention. Respect the hell out of you for talking about it, man.”

Prescott suggested that the two could “collab one day.” Hurst responded, “absolutely” before they both went their separate ways.

From whistle to whistle, Dak Prescott and Hayden Hurst were on opposite sides of a fierce competition. Once the game ended, though, they came together for something bigger than football.

How to get help: In the U.S., call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Or text HOME to 741-741 to connect with a trained crisis counselor at the free Crisis Text Line.