Dak Prescott looked for inspiration on his way back from two ankle surgeries.
He found it in a former NFC East rival: Alex Smith.
So said the QB after signing a new four-year, $160M contract in Dallas. Smith's incredible journey back to football -- countless procedures, crushing setbacks, and hard rehabilitation set against an uncertain future -- pushed his Cowboys counterpart through his own trying recovery process.
"I have to thank, honestly, Alex Smith," Prescott told reporters this week. "Because at that moment when you're sitting there and you have an injury like that or you come out of surgery, to see somebody who's already done it and did it actually in worse circumstances, that allowed my mind just to go to straight, 'Hey, I can do this. I'm going to beat this. It's just a matter of time."
Smith, who was released by Washington last week, set the standard for perseverance during his 2020 AP Comeback Player of the Year award-winning season. The veteran underwent 17 surgeries over a nearly two-year span before returning to the game.
Prescott's recovery looks speedy by comparison. If he returns by Week 1 as hoped, he'll have been sidelined for less than a full year.
The Cowboys' QB "never" had to question whether his injury was a career-ending one like Smith did. Still, he must've experienced his own share of tough and trying days during rehabilitation.
That's when Prescott turned the author of the league's most improbable comeback story in quite some time. Like Smith, Prescott found new reserves of hope and strength to forge his own path back to the game.