FRISCO - Jerry Jones said he feels about Dak Prescott "the same I feel about Stephen. There’s no going forward without Stephen or one of your family members. You got to figure it out.”
That remark from the Dallas Cowboys owner was uttered almost exactly one year ago to the day. It was meant as a positive - if hyperbolic - assurance of a coming long-term contract.
Again ... that remark was uttered a year ago.
So, just how "hyperbolic'' was it? And just how sincere are the feelings now?
Jerry has three grown children and dotes on them, relies on them, and loves them dearly. But to the owner of the Cowboys, "football is family,'' too. So every once in a while, Stephen, Charlotte, and Jerry Jr. really do have to step aside and make room for another "sibling.''
That what the plan has always been for Dak Prescott.
Jerry was speaking to the DFW media in Indianapolis at the NFL Scouting Combine when he said the "family'' thing. He put a sharp and colorful point on the importance of Prescott to this franchise and the commitment the Jones family has to retain him via what figures to be the largest contract in Cowboys history.
He did so by comparing the love he has for Dak to the love he has for his oldest son. Truth is, though, for two years, and continuing this week as contract talks have re-opened with the franchise-tag (again) looming ... Stephen and Dak sit on the opposite side of the negotiating table.
But "family'' can still "matter'' here.
This concept is not unfamiliar territory to Cowboys fans who can remember Jerry heaping this sort of praise on players over the years. Troy Aikman and Michael Irvin got that treatment - not just contractually, but emotionally. In a later generation, so did Jason Witten (in fact if you listen to Jerry, the "John Wayne-Esque'' Witten is still due it) and Tony Romo (who reciprocated and named one of his sons "Jones.'')
And when circumstances cause the Cowboys to part ways with the likes of DeMarcus Ware or Dez Bryant? Jerry's emotional discomfort is real.
At the center of the negotiations with Prescott's agent, Todd France is of course money, years, security, and guarantees. Dallas thought it was close last summer, and the summer before that, too. But now? a $37.7 million tag, and all the problems that come with it, sit at the center of the "family table.''
And the Cowboys are about to have to get as serious about a financial commitment as Jerry is about the emotional one.