In a statement Tuesday following reports that police broke up a large social distancing-defying gathering at Dak Prescott's home, the Dallas Cowboys quarterback pushed back on "completely inaccurate" reporting, saying "fewer than 10 people" — not 30 — were present at his home for a dinner party.
Yet despite the back-and-forth over the details, Texas law at the time prohibited the gathering, either way.
What are the details?
TMZ published a report Saturday that police had busted Prescott for hosting a "birthday party" Friday night at his home in Prosper, Texas, which featured some "30 guests," including Cowboys star running back Ezekiel Elliott.
"Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott are partying like it's NOT 2020 in the middle of a pandemic — hanging together for a celebration that appears to violate the Texas 'safer-at-home' order," the report stated with pictures from the gathering that showed a buffet spread and several people gathered, though never more than five in a shot.
Cowboys Dak Prescott, Zeke Elliott Party with Friends, Violate TX Quarantine https://t.co/fIs5f9KmdI— TMZ (@TMZ)1586634783.0
After a media firestorm ensued, Prescott shot back at the report in a statement Tuesday calling out TMZ, though not by name, for inaccurately reporting based on anonymous sources.
"I understand and accept that there are additional responsibilities and media scrutiny that come with being an NFL quarterback, but it is very frustrating and disappointing when people provide completely inaccurate information from anonymous sources, especially now," he said. "To set the record straight — I know that we all need to do our best to socially distance and like everyone else, I am continuing to adjust to what that requires, but the truth is that I was with fewer than 10 people for a home dinner — not a party — on Friday night."
How has the confusion persisted, weren't the police present Friday night to disperse the crowd? Yes, but it turns out they could not confirm the number in attendance, either.
In the report, TMZ acknowledged they were told "there was a sit-down dinner later in the evening at Dak's place for just a select few, closer to the magic number of 10 — although clearly not seated 6 feet apart."
The acknowledgement made reference to an executive order issued by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) in mid-March that limited social gatherings of 10 or more people. Here's the problem, that's an outdated order.
On April 2, a new order went into effect that expressly insisted that "every person in Texas shall, except where necessary to provide or obtain essential services, minimize social gatherings and minimize in-person contact with people who are not in the same household."
Here's the upshot: Whether there were under 10 people in attendance like Prescott says, or up to 30 in attendance, like TMZ reported, it doesn't actually matter. A birthday dinner party is not considered an "essential service" under Texas guidelines.
In order to clarify any confusion surrounding the updated order, Gov. Abbott released a video the day before the order was to take effect saying it "requires all Texans to stay at home" except for essential activities.
The Cowboys executive vice president, Stephen Jones, has reportedly spoken with Prescott and Elliott about the issue. He confirmed Tuesday that "they're certainly aware now of how sensitive these situations are" and said, "I don't think you'll be seeing that [kind of behavior] anymore."