It's baffling that Emmitt Smith is in Dak Prescott's pockets in defense of billionaire Jerry Jones

Kimberley A. MartinSenior NFL writer
Yahoo Sports

In a world controlled by billionaire interests and fueled by capitalistic greed, how could it be that Dak Prescott, of all people, is the one being miscast as selfish? 

Somehow, in his refusal to blink first in a drawn-out test of wills, the Dallas Cowboys quarterback has been the one labeled too self-serving. Not simply by some fans, but also, inexplicably, a franchise great who once sat out multiple games in hopes of lining his own pockets a lot better.

Cowboys Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith recently joined the chorus of prognosticators who believe Prescott would be better served lowering his asking price for the good of — guess who? — the Cowboys.

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The Cowboys. … 

A franchise worth more than $5 billion. … 

A franchise run by Jerry Jones, a businessman worth more than $8 billion.

The contract stalemate between Prescott and the team has now bled into the 2020 offseason, and while the quarterback seemed hopeful that a deal would get done soon, each passing day brings another opportunity to pontificate on what Prescott should do. And, according to Smith, the 26-year-old should settle for the hometown discount and recoup extra money through endorsements.

Come again?

Dak Prescott is pressing for a hefty payday from Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Dak Prescott is pressing for a hefty payday from Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

With all due respect to Smith, one of the most transcendent running backs to ever grace a football field … Get yo’ hand out of Prescott’s pocket!

What happened to the unspoken rule on not counting other people’s money?

Forget whether or not Prescott is worth $30 million or $40 million. 

Forget whether or not he’s as talented or prolific as Patrick Mahomes

Forget whether or not you believe Dallas currently has its franchise guy under center.

No former player should ever encourage another NFL brother to take less — not when they play a multi-billion sport that benefits from lucrative TV deals and is run by team owners who easily rake in millions.

When everyone around Prescott is getting paid handsomely — Jones himself, running back Ezekiel Elliott, defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, etc. — why should Prescott sacrifice for the greater good? Why, when the salary cap is expected to rise, yet again, should Prescott be pressured into accepting less than what he may be able to procure? Why, when Smith beat Jones at his own game of chicken, would the former running back dissuade Prescott from getting as much as he can?

Advising Prescott to pocket anything less than what he can from the league’s most valuable franchise is just silly. But witnessing a former player — a former Cowboy, no less — do the same is maddening.

Every player who suits up in the NFL understands the finite window that awaits them. There’s only so many years you can play this game, only so much punishment your body can take, only so much time to maximize your earning potential. And, eventually, all organizations choose to move on from you.

In a world where Carson Wentz and Jared Goff — two quarterbacks who carry plenty of durability and production questions — earn more per year than Matt Ryan, Kirk Cousins, Jimmy Garoppolo and Matthew Stafford, why isn’t Prescott being encouraged to get his?

“Dak has to understand and maybe take another perspective,” Smith said Wednesday on “The Lefkoe Show.”

“The perspective may not be all the money that you get. It may be how much money are you willing to leave on the table because the Cowboys [are] a marketable organization?” 

Smith added: “If you’re the face of the franchise, instead of taking $35 [million], would you take $28 [million], and leave some for Amari [Cooper] and pick up the other $35 [million] through endorsements?”

Negotiations are dictated by leverage. And in every profession, current and future employers will put a cap on your value and tell you how much you’re really worth. 

That’s why Smith skipped the Cowboys’ first two regular-season games of the 1993 season. He had his sights set on a new contract. And the tactic worked. Jones made Smith the high-paid running back at the time, signing him to a four-year deal worth $13.6 million.

Dallas can handle Prescott’s contract any number of ways: The organization can sign him to a long-term deal, let him hit the open market or apply either the non-exclusive, exclusive or transition tag. The Cowboys will undoubtedly do what’s in their perceived best interest, so don’t begrudge Prescott for playing the game his way.

The suggestion that Prescott should go the Tom Brady route — take less in salary each year in order for resources to be allocated to other positions — leaves out one critical variable. “The Patriot Way” doesn’t reside at The Star. Bill Belichick isn’t running the organization nor is he coaching the Cowboys. And, as Prescott wisely pointed out recently: Unlike Brady, he’s not married to a supermodel.

After all that winning in Foxborough, after all those times hoisting the Lombardi Trophy at the Super Bowl, Brady is now curious to see how much he can fetch on the open market. Can you blame him?

All players — all people — want to feel valued by their employer and be compensated according to their worth. 

That’s why Prescott’s defiant tone in a recent Yahoo Sports exclusive interview touched off commentary from all corners of sports media. Here was a player quipping, “you tell me,” when asked about his worth. There was no animosity in his voice when we spoke that day during Super Bowl week. No ounce of irritation at the line of questioning. Prescott understands that people will question what he’s worth, but he’s not interested in what the rest of us think. Smith included.

And nor should he care.

It’s a shame that the interests of billionaire owners are more palatable to the masses than the motives of players, the ones who sacrifice their bodies each week for the good of the game.

And it’s a shame that Smith didn’t take a moment to reflect on his own attempt to beat Jones at his own game and earn top dollar when his window opened.

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