Tony Romo says Dak Prescott has "earned the right" to be the Dallas Cowboys' starting quarterback.
Romo, 36, has been the Cowboys starter since 2006, but he's been out all season since suffering a back injury during Dallas' third preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks.
Rookie Prescott, a fourth-round draft pick from Mississippi State, has since led the Cowboys to an NFL-best 8-1 record.
Romo will be active for Sunday's home game against the Baltimore Ravens, but Prescott will remain the starter.
In a prepared statement, Romo said Prescott deserved to keep his place.
"As hard as it is for me to say, he's earned that right," Romo said, speaking publicly for the first time since his injury. "If you think for a second that I don't want to be out there, you haven't experienced the pure ecstasy of winning and losing.
"It's in this moment, you realise what this game is all about. You aren't handed anything. You earn everything. That's the way the NFL works.
"It's not always easy to watch. What is clear is that I was that kid once. Going in having to prove yourself.
"If I remember one thing from back then, it's the people who helped me along when I was young. If I can be that for Dak, I've tried to be and I will be. Ultimately it's about the team."