The fleur-de-lis on the sign for Limitz Barbershop in Bossier City, Louisiana, gives away Torrian Brock’s loyalty to the New Orleans Saints. But that loyalty will be tested Sunday because of his feelings for Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott.
Brock started cutting Prescott’s hair when the quarterback was in seventh grade and remains close to the family, meeting up with Prescott when he returns home.
“I would like to see Dak do good, throw about four touchdowns, two to Amari Cooper because I’ve got both on my fantasy team, but the end result, I want to see the Saints win,” Brock said. “I’ve got to get a little payback.”
Brock is like a lot of folks in North Louisiana this week. His barbershop serves as a place to talk about everything — “sports, politics, religion, you name it, we talk it,” he said — but it is different during Cowboys-Saints week.
“You swear to God, it’s Super Bowl Sunday when they play each other,” Brock said.
Brock grew up in New Orleans as a Saints fan, but the northern regions of Louisiana are mostly Cowboys territory, because Dallas is approximately three hours away and the Mercedes-Benz Superdome is more than five hours distant.
In 2006, the Cowboys beat the Saints 30-7 in a preseason game played in Shreveport, Louisiana, that still haunts Brock.
“I made a bet with the guys in the shop that if the Cowboys won, I would put on a dress and wear a Cowboys jersey,” Brock said. “They took the picture with a Polaroid, so I was able to get my hands on it. It’s not going to be shown again. I still have it. I mess with folks, ‘This is why I don’t like the Cowboys. This is what they made me do.'”
There is another picture Brock, who wears a Saints hat almost every day, is willing to show. It is him with Prescott, who was in town to run his football camp in 2017. Although in this picture, Brock flipped his hat backward.
“That’s out of respect for Dak,” he said.
Playing in the Superdome
Even though he grew up in Louisiana, Prescott was a Cowboys fan. One brother, Jace, was a Saints fan, and his other brother, Tad, was a fan of both the New England Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers because of Randy Moss and Simeon Rice, respectively.
“Especially in our household, football was everything,” Tad said. “All three of us, including our mom, have football tattooed on our body somewhere. It was Monday to Friday, get up for school, go to practice, get out of our practice, take Dak to practice, coach his game on Friday night or Saturday morning, then Sunday, just nothing but football, football, football. Neighbors would come to the house, go in the backyard and play football. Football was our life. To this day, it still is.”
Dak has been to the Superdome just once.
He was honored before a game between the Saints and Carolina Panthers as one of the best players in North Louisiana as a senior at Haughton High School. Growing up, the goal was always to play a game inside the Superdome because it would have been for a state championship.
His best chance came during his senior season. Haughton’s Buccaneers were undefeated entering the Louisiana High School Athletic Association Class 4A quarterfinals against Franklinton High.
“Everybody knew it was really the state championship game,” said Rodney Guin, Prescott’s coach at Haughton and now the coach at Calvary Baptist. “We had the best two teams. I always tell people they had two NFL players, Terrence Magee and Josh Robinson, to our one. That was a heckuva game.”
Haughton lost 49-41, but Prescott threw for 343 yards and five touchdowns and also ran for a score. Franklinton went on to win the championship.
“Playing high school football in Louisiana, that’s your dream, making it to the Superdome because you want to play for state. We never went to one,” Tad said. “Now Dak says, ‘I’m not going to the Super Bowl until I play in one.’ It was the same way back then about the dome.”
While this will be his first professional game in Louisiana, his return to his home state as Mississippi State’s starting quarterback in 2014 at LSU was as memorable as any game he has had. But that one was a little more personal.
LSU did not recruit Prescott as a quarterback until late in his high school career. By that time, he had committed to Mississippi State and would not back out of it. The Bulldogs were unranked heading into the 2014 meeting; the Tigers were ranked No. 8. Prescott threw for 268 yards and two touchdowns and ran for a 56-yard score with an emphatic stiff-arm in a 34-29 victory.
A month later, the Bulldogs were No. 1 in the country.
“I remember everything from that game,” Tad said. “I remember walking to the stadium. I remember handing him a necklace, a gift so he can always remember Jace and I, as they came in, the 50-yard play that ended in a stiff-arm and dive. I remember the hug after the game, watching LSU fans leave the stadium in the third quarter.”
There’s also grass from Tiger Stadium that remains in a Betty Boop coffee mug Tad gave to his late mother, Peggy, which is now in his man cave.
Jonathan Vilma isn’t high on Dak Prescott just yet, calling Prescott an average quarterback without offensive weapons like Amari Cooper and Ezekiel Elliott.
‘I’ll pull for him no matter what’
Sunday’s game against the Saints (2-1) is more about business for the Cowboys’ fourth-year quarterback, who is leading the NFL in Total QBR at 90.4 and completion percentage at 74.5% and will face a Saints unit that ranks 20th in defensive efficiency.
“I’m sure maybe when I’m on the field and I think back to the high school days, the what-if moments, if you made it to the state championship, that’s where you played,” said Prescott, who said he needed to buy around 10 game tickets for friends and family. “But it’s the next game for me.”
At Haughton High School, coach Jason Brotherton, who was the receivers coach when Prescott played, said there has been a little “back and forth this week, but I don’t know if it has to do with Dak. I think it would be that way anyway. Cowboys fans and Saints fans kind of go at each other anyway.”
Brotherton said he pulls for both teams, but when the Cowboys (3-0) and Saints play each other, he pulls for Dallas.
“Dak can get traded to the Raiders and they’ll be my favorite team,” Brotherton said. “I’ll pull for him no matter what.”
It’s not the next game at Limitz. It’s the game.
Brock has four televisions on ESPN at the shop for most of the day until the kids put on cartoons. But the Cowboys-Saints game has dominated the conversations.
“Legally? Or illegally?” Brock joked when asked what those conversations are about. “Legally, it’s a whole bunch of trash talk.”
Brock will be at the game because he will be in New Orleans for a relative’s wedding on Saturday. Tad and Jace will be there with other friends and family. Brotherton will be at the game with his 6-year-old son, Brock — both wearing Cowboys gear. Guin will be home watching the game on television, after a work day with his Calvary Baptist coaches, cleaning up their game from Friday.
“I would think this means a lot to [Prescott] to play this one,” Guin said. “One, it’s the Saints and that’s a huge game. And to play it in New Orleans, I think it will hold a little extra. He’s got a lot of family in South Louisiana. I’m sure there’s a lot of Saints down there, but they probably converted to Dak fans, too, at this point. But for him, I’m sure he just wants to win, no matter where they play.”