Following what might have been the most ridiculous play in the history of last-second plays, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott did something even more ludicrous – and potentially dangerous – in a postgame interview following their season-ending 23-17 loss to the San Francisco 49ers.
First, the call of the quarterback draw with 14 seconds remaining and no timeouts can’t necessarily be blamed on Dak, though he could have opted to not follow through. Just because offensive coordinator Kellen Moore – a brilliant play caller for the most part – momentarily lost his mind and head coach Mike McCarthy did the same by not overriding the call, doesn’t mean Dak couldn’t have corrected the guffaw and called an audible.
But I digress. While the play is something Dak does not want to be remembered for, I’m sure he’d rather have that be part of his legacy than encouraging fans to attack officials.
Say what? Yep, you read right.
Following the game, in an interview Dak was told that angry fans were throwing objects onto the field. Initially, he responded with this comment:
“Nobody wants to succeed more than we want to succeed. I understand words and the word ‘fan,’ for fanatic. But to know everything we put into this, day-in and day-out, tried our hardest, nobody comes into the game wanting to or expecting to lose. For people to react that way when you’re supposed to be a supporter and be with us through thick and thin, that’s tough.”
However, when told it was officials at which they were throwing things, Prescott said, “Credit to them.”
The response drew laughter, and in the moment, it might have seemed lighthearted – and I’m sure Dak has never really condoned trying to injure officials. I’ve always considered Dak to be a class act in an organization that has employed the likes of Greg Hardy, Anthony Hargrove, Adam Jones, Rolando McClain and more.
To his credit, Dak did issue an apology for his comment. Hopefully, fans listened to that as much as they did when he praised them for their horrible behavior.
And it was horrible, to say the least. Even if you believe the officials cost the Cowboys the game against the 49ers – and they didn’t – there is never a reason to be abusive to them.
First of all, it’s only a game and the officials are only doing their job to the best of their ability as fair as they can.
Do they make mistakes? Of course, they are human. But when you have 14 penalties called on your team during the course of a game, it’s a good bet that at least a dozen were accurate calls.
Let he or she who has never made a mistake at work throw the first stone. No, not really, put that rock down and take a second look at that report before you turn it in.
Second, it’s only a game. Go home, go out to dinner, start talking about next season and how the team will build from this – Cowboys fans have plenty of practice at this.
Don’t throw things at the officials. Don’t throw things at anybody, including me if you disagree with this column.
Trust me, I’ve seen first-hand how crazy fans can get. Two very memorable instances will forever be etched in my mind.
Once, while covering a youth baseball game – yes, youth – fans were so abusive to the home plate umpire that in about the fourth inning he turned and told them goodbye. He walked over, picked up his water bottle, offered them a few unkind words – though nothing as bad as the curse words and such they were spouting at him – and said he’d had enough.
The game resumed about an hour later after a replacement ump was called in. I can’t remember which team won, but I will never forget being there for a time when an official actually fought back.
Another time, during a high school hockey championship game, though this incident didn’t involve attacking an official, it did involve an attack. In the game’s final minute or two, a fan and parent with the losing team snuck over behind the bench of the winning team and got a chokehold on the coach.
Officials came to the rescue, the parent was taken into custody, and sadly, more focus was placed on his attack than on the team winning the title.
While most fans are typical folks like you and me – you didn’t see me wanting to hang the refs in effigy after Alabama lost to Georgia in the national championship game – some are literally fanatics, and not in a good way.
In 2013 a Brazilian official was beheaded by fans and his head was placed on a stake. So, obviously, it can be worse than what happened at Jerry World.
I hope – and doubt – we will ever reach that point in the United States. Still, I would discourage the sale of shishkabob’s to some sports fans.
If you think my criticism of Dak is harsh, I’m not alone. The NBA referees association came down hard on him – and that’s not even his sport.
I’m not saying send holiday cards to officials or have them over for Sunday barbecue, but maybe just give them a break. This includes fans, players and coaches, as several Cowboys, and even McCarthy himself, cast blame on the officials after the loss – not the only time that happened this season.
There will be another day and another game. Of course, not until next season for the Cowboys, but don’t blame the officials for that.