Watching the final minute of the Dallas Cowboys / Arizona Cardinals game Sunday left many Cowboy fans around the country scratching their heads and staring at their big screen tv’s in disbelief. With the game tied at 13 – 13, AGAIN, and it was clear, AGAIN, who would BAILey them out for another win. With seven seconds on the clock, “Mr. Automatic” steps back and kicks the ball right down the middle – it’s good! Cowboys win! Cowboys win!
Hold up, not so fast. Over on the sidelines, just milli-seconds before Bailey’s foot met the ball, head coach Jason Garrett signaled for a timeout. Wait? What? Everyone looked around, curious as to WHY this happened. The commentators sat stunned. The Dallas fans appeared bewildered. The Cardinal players remained hopeful. Dan Bailey iced…….by his own coach. Minutes later, it was all over. The Dallas Cowboys fell at the hands, or feet, as was the case, of the Cardinals, a team they had no business losing to. What happened next is the reason for this prose and why I wanted to spend some time on Jason Garrett.
Post game radio shows reveal the characters of mankind, good and bad. When your team wins, it’s all sunshine and lollipops. When your team loses, it’s hell fire and damnation on everyone in the organization. On one post-game show a particular caller, we will call Cary, emphatically yelled that Jason Garrett is a loser and will never win in life. Apparently, according to the caller, Garrett has been a loser since birth and continues to have that mentality. I would like to debunk that theory and attempt to straighten out a few misguided individuals.
I would venture to say, most NFL head coaches probably were not losers in life and Garrett is no exception. At his high school, University School in Hunting Valley, Ohio, he lettered in three sports and was All-league as both a quarterback and a safety. In college, both at Princeton and Columbia, and keep in mind, these are not universities that losers attend, he played football, where he won the Ivy League Player of the Year.
After graduating with a History degree in 1989, Garrett signed as a free agent with the New Orleans Saints. A short stint with the Saints lead him to the San Antonio Riders, the Ottawa Rough Riders, back to the NFL with the Cowboys as third-string backup to Troy Aikman, a promotion to second-string quarterback (where he earned two super bowl rings), east to the New York Giants, a trip to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and then retired as a player with the Miami Dolphins. While some would say this is nothing to brag about, and it could indicate that he does NOT have what it takes to play quarterback in the big league, it shows me that what he does have is tenacity and the ability to surround himself with success.
“What we like to do is empower people around us,” Jason Garrett said. “There are a lot of different responsibilities that I have, and there are responsibilities our staff will have. You allocate those responsibilities or you empower people to do the things that need to get done.”
Due to Garrett’s intelligence and knowledge of the game, his next professional move was to become the quarterback coach for Miami. Following that gig, in 2007, he returned to Dallas as the Cowboys offensive coordinator. After all that moving around, playing quarterback for various teams, and a non-head coaching job, finally, in January, 2011, he became the 8th head coach of the Dallas Cowboys.
All of that, leads me to tell you this: while it remains to be seen if he can lead these Cowboys to their 6th Super Bowl ring, the man is not a loser, as the caller proclaimed. He has proven, throughout his life that he puts himself into positions for success. His decision to call a timeout that would essentially be the final dagger in the Cowboys loss loomed large last week. This week, he will put together a plan to beat arch rival New York Giants and all will be forgiven. So, no, angry, misguided, drunk caller, Jason Garrett is not a loser in life. He is the head coach of America’s team, and until he quits, retires, or is let go, he will be a winner to many. The only request: hire an offensive coordinator so ill-timed timeouts will not cause angst and turmoil across the nation.