With a smirk that oozed of veiled disappointment, Tua Tagovailoa took to the podium for his first formal interview at the 2020 NFL Combine and was forced to clarify his recent comments about the Dallas Cowboys and Dak Prescott. The 21-year-old recently had nothing but positive things to, but he found his praise plastered across headlines immediately thereafter, and that wasn't his intent.
"If you're saying to me, if I can choose what team I want to play on -- as far as my favorite team growing up -- then I probably tell you the Cowboys," Tagovailoa said initially. "I'm not trying to bump [Prescott]. I'll learn under him. I'd handle it the way that the coaches there want to handle it.
"Honestly, I just want to be able play again. I wouldn't mind learning under whatever guy that's the starter. Give me a whole year to rest up and then go back out and compete, but I just want to go back out and play."
Tagovailoa, who is returning from season-ending hip surgery, seemingly sought to initially frame his comment as a bid to every NFL team, and not just the Cowboys. No doubt having now learned a valuable lesson about the difference between collegiate and pro football media, Tagovailoa walked back his comments in Indianapolis or, more accurately, reframed them to cut off any potential pre-draft rumors at the knees.
"You know, all I said is I'm a big Cowboys fan," he said, via Jon Ledyard of Pewter Report. "I grew up a Cowboys fan my entire life. I understand that a lot of people have changed my words around and claimed that's the only team I wanted to go to. That's not true.
"I grew up a Cowboys fan. I have two dogs that are named Dallas and Star. Just to tell you how big of a Cowboys fan I was. I'd be grateful to be drafted by any team."
Even if Tagovailoa had/has eyes for the Cowboys, the likelihood of him landing in North Texas is virtually nil for a variety of reasons.
The most prevalent is the fact a selection of Tagovailoa would be instantly viewed as the Cowboys entertaining the thought of moving on from Prescott, and they've never once done that. Even as rumors swirled they'd be willing to trade the two-time Pro Bowler and somehow work a deal with Tom Brady to take his place, the reality was those headlines. Team owner Jerry Jones and VP of player personnel Stephen Jones have of the franchise, and the latter recently hammered that point home yet again.
"Absolutely not," the younger Jones said when asked if there was even a remote chance Prescott wouldn't be the Cowboys signal-caller going forward. "Dak's our quarterback. He's our quarterback for the future."
At best, the Cowboys are looking to upgrade the backup role behind Prescott with Cooper Rush heading into the final year of his contract, but while Tagovailoa is content with learning behind a starter -- he'd quite literally never have a chance at being more than that in Dallas. That is barring an injury to Prescott, of course, but considering he's never missed a single start in his four-year career, the odds of a window opening for Tagovailoa in that capacity are also slim-to-none.
And then there's the fact a healthy Tagovailoa won't likely make it out of the top-5 in the NFL Draft, with the Miami Dolphins being a frontrunner to select him with the fifth-overall pick. No matter how you slice the whole wheat, there's not a seat in Dallas for the former Alabama superstar, and that's just fine by him.
He still loves the Cowboys, maybe, but as a fan. As a player, he's ready for whatever team calls his phone in April.