Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott on loss of Ezekiel Elliott: “I’m hurt. I’m sure he is.”

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Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott was all smiles and full of positivity and hope standing on the stage with Hall of Fame quarterback Roger Staubach on Thursday at NorthPark Center for the Model Reveal for the 33rd annual Children’s Cancer Fund Gala.

The event, set for April 21 in at Hilton Anatole in Dallas, raises money for pediatric cancer research and is near and dear to Aikman and Prescott and aligns with their charity focuses.

Not only are they honorary co-chairmen of the gala but they are also two of four Cowboys who have been recognized for their off-the-field endeavors by the NFL as winners of the Walter Payton Man of the Year award, the league’s highest honor.

But the moment on Thursday couldn’t erase the disappointment Prescott has endured over the last 24 hours following the team’s decision to cut running back Ezekiel Elliott, his best friend.

I’m hurt,” Prescott said. “I’m sure he is. But it’s more important for me to be able to support him. I know he’s got more opportunities coming his way. And I love that guy. Proud of him. No. 1 supporter for him no matter what.”

“I really can’t imagine taking the field without him. It’s something that I don’t know if it’s completely hit me yet.”

Prescott and Elliott have been inseparable and franchise cornerstones since coming into the league together in 2016 and taking the NFL by storm with a magical rookie season. Elliott was picked fourth overall in the first round and Prescott was picked in the fourth round.

“It’s tough, it’s tough,” Prescott said. “Zeke is a guy who is does everything the right way. We had fun. But when it was time to lock in; when it was time to focus and give everything you have and show the young guys what to do, Zeke was a guy to follow. How to be a pro and how to be a pro with a smile on your face and enjoying this game and enjoying life.

“I can’t imagine him not being in the locker room.”

Aikman echoed Prescott when asked about the team’s decision to move on from Elliott. He said it was a gut-wrenching because of what Elliott meant to the Cowboys in the locker room as well as on the field.

“I’m a big fan of Zeke’s,” Aikman said. “I think they’re going to really miss one of their real core players in that locker room. And I always felt when I was playing that there are guys that you just don’t replace. They have a big impact, regardless of whatever they’re doing on the field, with the continuity and the success of the football team. And I really believe that Zeke is one of those guys. And and I’m not alone.

“I think the Cowboys understand that as well. I think that’s what made this decision so gut wrenching.”

Elliott’s departure is part of an off season of change for the Cowboys and one of personal loss for Prescott.

The team also said good bye to offensive coordinator Kellen Moore, who was a teammate as backup quarterback in 2016 before joining the staff as quarterback coach and then offensive coordinator the past four seasons.

Prescott said he looking forward to working with coach Mike McCarthy as the team’s new play caller.

And he acknowledged the focus of trying to win now is more important than ever.

“Having all those guys depart, so many close friends and good teammates and not win a championship and not when a championship and the urgency was there,” Prescott said. “As that has turned over, you might blink and my career could be over. The urgency is now. It’s now or never. It’s simple as that. No sugar coating it.”

But when asked if it was bittersweet trying to be excited about winning and moving on without Elliott by his side, Prescott still get past his disappointment. He said the thought Elliott not being with the Cowboys still hasn’t sunk in yet.

“It’s tough to say anything is sweet right now, honestly,” Prescott said. “And that’s just what those guys mean to me. You know what I mean? And you create these relationships. And that’s what makes you play the way you do, the relationships that you build within the organization within your team, whether it’s with the coaches or whether it’s with the teammates. I know the sweet is coming. I know it’s coming.”

“I’m a very optimistic guy. Don’t get me wrong. Change is good as I’ve always said that. But it’s tough for me to see it in this moment. But I know it’s coming and excited for when it does.”