Traditions. Superstitions. Jinxes.
I'd been meaning to ask Dak Prescott about his love for the bow tie for weeks, and finally got around to it as the rookie QB prepared for his then-4-1 Cowboys to play at Green Bay.
"No, it's not a superstition," Dak said, noting that he started the fashion statement in his junior year at Mississippi State when Starkville clothier George Sherman gave him his first bow tie.
"It was my first time wearing it and we won,'' Prescott said. "I guess you could say George was more superstitious because he made me buy another one the next time.
"And then the bow tie kind of became my thing.''
And now Dak has a new habit: Winning at the NFL level, as he helped record a 30-16 win at Green Bay on Sunday to push Dallas to a surprising 5-1.
And yeah, there was Dak in the bowels of historic Lambeau Field on Sunday evening, saying "Dak Prescott: "This is Tony's team. I'm just here to help my team win each and every game that I can," while again wearing Bow Tie No. 6.
A few days ago, I asked him about the size of his collection, knowing he'll probably want to have at least 16 - and more if the Cowboys go to the playoffs.
"I've got a bunch,'' he said, adding that teammate Brandon Carr had given him a "peacock bow tie."
I thought he meant "peacocking." You know, showing off? (You young fashionable single fellas probably know what I mean.)
"No," Dak laughed. "These are real feathers. Authentic peacock.''
Prescott is the real deal, "authentic," too. He has traditions (not superstitions!) he leans on. He told me that he calls the cellphone number of his late mother sometimes on the eve of games, and said his mother remains the force in his life that keeps him grounded.
Oh, and remember that training-camp habit of finishing every practice in Oxnard with a Dak-vs.-Jason Garrett passing-accuracy contest?
"Yup," Dak tells me. "We still do it. Every day."
Prescott was 18 of 27 passing for 247 yards and three TDs against the Packers while breaking Tom Brady’s NFL-record 163 for throws without an interception at by reaching the 174 mark … at which time Prescott did throw a pick, along with fumbling twice, too. He’s good — good enough to continue to have to quell a national argument that he should retain this job even in a couple of weeks when Tony Romo is healthy enough to take it back — but he’s not perfect.
Nevertheless, owner Jerry Jones reflected on the win by saying he's "pinching myself." And when I asked him about "Tony's Team" vs "Dan's Roll," Jerry told me, "What were gonna do is, wait til the next card's played." It helps that Ezekiel Elliott is off to the second-best rushing start in the NFL since 1933 and that the Dallas defense only gives up 17 points per game.
And then there's Dak.
If you have a media outlet or a barber or a bartender telling you he knows exactly what's going to happen at the Cowboys QB spot, he's lying to you. Jerry's answer is the truth. Coach Jason Garrett's "stack good days'' approach is sincere. Prescott, as of Friday, had not been told he's starting against the Eagles; Romo didn't practice on Monday, so Dak vs. Philly becomes more apparent. But Romo at Cleveland? The idea that "hot and on a roll'' is better than "established stud vet''? Bench Dak while he's doing well to keep his confidence high? Insert Romo because the organization needs to gather intel on its $30-mil March decisions? Those things truly have not been set in stone yet.
But one aspect of all of this seems unbending: Dak Prescott is a sensation now, the People's Choice, the heir to Romo and maybe more than that ... yet so far, there is no change in his personal style.
Traditions. Superstitions. Jinxes. Each of us really kind of gets to choose which is which, how to label them, what to believe.
Bow ties and mother's memories and pitch-and-catch with the head coach - these are winning habits.
Appearing on the Packers-week Sports Illustrated cover in a Cowboys uniform and weathering the "SI jinx"?
"Well," said Dak Prescott, who'd never heard of such a thing despite having appeared on the cover as a Bulldogs star in each of the two previous years, “I don’t think it got me the first two times. So I should be alright.’’
And he was. And he is.