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During the 2020 campaign, the Dallas Cowboys never really got off the ground. In the early weeks of the season, their defense looked historically bad. Then, during Week 5, Dak Prescott suffered a gruesome ankle injury. With their star quarterback sidelined, the club was dead in the water; with all due respect to Andy Dalton, Ben DiNucci, and Garrett Gilbert, they couldn’t pick up the slack.

While it’s easy to focus on injuries from a football perspective, pro athletes are people too. During a recent interview, Prescott shared his feelings from the moments following his season-ending injury. Unsurprisingly, things seemed pretty awful in that moment.

Dak Prescott had a tough 2020, thanks to contract issues and an ankle injury

For just about everyone around the globe, 2020 was a tough year. While football issues are admittedly small potatoes compared to a global pandemic, Prescott’s year was less than ideal, too, at least from a professional perspective.

At the end of the 2019 NFL season, Prescott’s rookie contract expired. Based on his performances, the quarterback anticipated quite the payday. Negotiating with Dallas owner Jerry Jones proved to be problematic, though, as neither party could agree on the terms. Dak left the bargaining table with a one-year franchise tag, giving him a sizable salary at the cost of long-term security.

Before long, that reality would come to the forefront. During the Cowboys’ Week 5 date with the New York Giants, Prescott scrambled out of the pocket trying to move the chains. When the dust cleared, however, something had gone wrong. The quarterback remained on the turf.

We later learned that Dak had suffered a compound ankle fracture and dislocation, ending his season. Without a long-term contract, his entire NFL career hung in the balance.

What went through the Cowboys quarterback’s mind as he sat on the turf?

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott leaves the field after injuring his ankle.
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott is carted off the field after suffering an ankle injury. | Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

When Cowboys fans saw Prescott stay down after that ill-fated run, most of them probably feared for their favorite team’s season. On the field, however, the quarterback was dealing with his own set of concerns.

Despite the severity of the injury, Dak didn’t realize how badly he was hurt.

“I actually thought I rolled my ankle, I actually thought that’s all that happened,” Prescott told Sage Steele on SportsCenter, according to Bleacher Report. “And when I was on the ground, I looked over to see if my ankle was rolled, it was facing the other way. At the time, I’m in shock.”

While that shock meant that the quarterback wasn’t in too much pain, it couldn’t prevent him from feeling the emotional impact of the moment.

“I mean, thank God for [the] shock of not being able to feel the pain, but at that moment, I just wanted to get off the field so bad, and I couldn’t,” Dak continued. “And it wasn’t until my teammates came over to tap me on the shoulder, tell me it’s going to be OK, they love me, was when I lost it because I haven’t missed much time in the game of football. But to know at that moment that it was gone, it was tough.”

Dak Prescott also had some good news for Cowboys fans during the interview

Even if you can’t stand the Cowboys, hearing Prescott relive the moments around his injury was painful on a human level. The interview, however, also included some positive news.

During the 2021 offseason, Prescott got the big-money contract extension he was after. With that taken care of, all that’s left is for the quarterback to get back to full health and return to the football field. While lower-body injuries can be problematic — no amount of raw athleticism can overcome a bad ankle — Dak sounded pretty optimistic about his rehab.

“I’m healthy,” the Cowboys quarterback told Steele. “If we had to play a game now, I feel like I can go out there. Obviously, with the protection of my O-line and making sure I’m not getting beat up the whole game, I could go out there and be very successful, start the game, finish the game and not even worry about the leg.”

At this point, the 2021 NFL season is still a few months away. If Prescott feels that good in May, he should be more than ready come the fall.