Since being drafted in 2016, Dak Prescott has been a rarity among Cowboys players. He's carefully avoided controversy at all times and maintained a squeaky-clean image when teammates, most notably Ezekiel Elliott, have proved completely unable to keep themselves out of the headlines.
Then came the novel coronavirus. Prescott, like a lot of people, can't quite get his head around what to do with himself as the world tries to avoid the bug.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's latest guidelines for curtailing the spread of the virus recommend that Texans "minimize social gatherings and minimize in-person contact with people who are not in the same household."
The Cowboys quarterback hasn't been able to do it.
Over the last couple of weeks, Prescott has been spotted multiple times on social media working out with Elliott and former Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant. (A brief, non-coronavirus related note: the Observer feels strongly that Bryant would be an excellent red zone specialist for the Cowboys when they return to football.)
The workouts themselves violate at least the spirit of Abbott's order. So does linking arms with each other and taking photos.
Prescott, Bryant and Elliott's workouts drew some media attention and more than some tut-tutting on social media. They were just the appetizer.
Over the weekend, TMZ got its paws on some photos appearing to show Prescott hosting a party at his home in Prosper. The tabloid claims a source told it that there were close to 30 people at the party.
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Rather than just apologizing and moving on, Prescott's camp has insisted that the gathering was merely a dinner with fewer than 10 people. Even what the quarterback is admitting to runs against all pandemic-related recommendations.
“I understand and accept that there are additional responsibilities and media scrutiny that come with being an NFL quarterback, but it is very frustrating and disappointing when people provide completely inaccurate information from anonymous sources, especially now,” Prescott said in a statement to media outlets Tuesday. “To set the record straight — I know that we all need to do our best to socially distance, and like everyone else, I am continuing to adjust to what that requires, but the truth is that I was with fewer than 10 people for a home dinner — not a party — on Friday night.”
Prosper police received a call about the dinner but decided to remind Prescott of CDC guidelines, rather than taking any legal action.
Hopefully — ideally sometime this fall, as Prescott leads the Cowboys to a long winning streak — all of this will be just another weird footnote in a crisis that's been full of them. Still, it's not the best look for a guy hoping to become the highest-paid player in football.