Walter Manning Player of the Year Award winner, Dallas Cowboys' Dak Prescott, right, hugs last year's recipient Calais Campbell during the NFL Honors award show ahead of the Super Bowl 57 football game,Thursday, Feb. 9, 2023, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Walter Manning Player of the Year Award winner, Dallas Cowboys' Dak Prescott, right, hugs last year's recipient Calais Campbell during the NFL Honors award show ahead of the Super Bowl 57 football game,Thursday, Feb. 9, 2023, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
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PHOENIX (AP) — Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott used his platform as the NFL's Walter Payton Man of the Year award recipient for an emotional tribute to his mother, whom he called his “moral compass” and his inspiration.

The two-time Pro Bowl selection lost his mother, Peggy, to cancer in 2013 when he was a quarterback at Mississippi State. He also honored his late brother, Jace, who died by suicide in 2020.

“My mother was, and still is, my moral compass,” Prescott said while accepting the award Thursday night at NFL Honors. “Through my own charitable contributions, I seek to share her strength and courage with the world."

“My mother told me when she was diagnosed with cancer that, ‘All greats have a story. Allow me to be your story.’ She is my ‘why.’ And with these words, just as she does and always did, my mother inspired me and motivated me to be great beyond the circumstances. And it was in her honor I that started my foundation in 2017 and named it Faith, Fight, Finish, the three words she left me and my brothers.”

Prescott is the fourth Cowboys player to win the award, joining Roger Staubach, Troy Aikman and former teammate Jason Witten.

The award — the recipient of which is picked from 32 nominees, one on each team — is given to an NFL player for his community service activities, as well as on-the-field success.

The quarterback said there was no doubt where this award ranks among the many honors he's received in his career.

“That's easy — it's number one,” Prescott told reporters later Thursday. “When your mom gets diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer, she's given months to live, she's giving you that news, and she tells you, ‘Hey, all greats have a story. Allow me to be your story.’

"That's what this award means to me.”

Prescott's Faith Fight Finish foundation has raised funds for several causes, including colon cancer research. The quarterback has also been very open about suicide prevention and mental health. For winning the award, Prescott's foundation receives $255,000. The other 31 finalists receive $55,000 for the charity of their choice.

“I've always been obsessed with the game of football since I was a little kid,” Prescott said. "When she used to introduce me, she'd say ‘This is my Heisman winner.'

"Obviously, I didn't win that. But I think being able to trade that for the Walter Payton Man of the Year award, my mom would have been so proud."

The award is named after late running back and Pro Football Hall of Famer Walter Payton. Los Angeles Rams offensive lineman Andrew Whitworth was last year's winner.

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