Cowboys Jason Garrett: The Good Kind of Crazy

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You might have caught the release of Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett’s training camp speech two weeks ago. If you have not, the video is embedded on page two. It’s a long watch at 35 minutes, but it’s worthwhile if you want to know the rules and ideological foundation that will be guiding the 2013 Cowboys. It also happens to be, to my knowledge, the first time an NFL Head Coach has released a full video of his pre-training camp speech. So that’s pretty cool.

But I digress. What we care about is how this talk pertains to the Cowboys. At first listening, this speech seems like your run-of-the-mill motivational sports talk. Garrett goes over the same things you’ll hear at all levels of football when the coach is sitting down with the team for the first time: be on time, hustle, be respectful, take care of your blisters, don’t eat too much fruit (it dehydrates you), yada yada yada. Which is good, because no matter how exceptional you think you are, ignoring the basics is one of the easiest ways to slip up.

However, there is something going on in this speech that transcends football. Garrett addresses it at the beginning. He opens his speech by talking about opportunities. He wants everyone to be thankful for the fact that they are sitting in that room, playing football for a living. “Life is about opportunity. It’s about creating opportunities and taking advantage of opportunities. It’s what it is in all walks of life, no different in the National Football League.” He wants to make this speech about more than a game. This is not Garrett the Football Coach talking, this is Garrett the Philosopher.

Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

He moves on (with visible glee) to talking about the commercial that he opened OTAs with. Apparently the first motivational video our 2013 Dallas Cowboys saw was the 1997 Apple Think Different commercial that launched the renaissance of the tech company that would come to dominate the 2000s.  The ad focuses on people who have changed the world over the past 100 years. You see Einstein, Bob Dylan, MLK, John Lennon, Muhammad Ali, Emelia Earhart, Ghandi, Alfred Hitchcock, Picasso and many others. People who were looked down upon for thinking differently but ended up having a huge impact because they didn’t “listen to the noise”.

Garrett has obviously studied this commercial and thinks highly of its message. I’ve been watching his speeches and press conferences since he became head coach and when he starts analyzing the meaning of this commercial he becomes as animated as I’ve ever seen. I know that’s not saying much, but still. He really believes in this stuff. This quote gets to the heart of what he wants to use this commercial to teach the players:

"“All these guys. Iconic figures…in the world, over the past hundred years. The crazy ones. People who are crazy enough to think differently. Willing to do that. People who are bold enough to believe it when everyone else was saying ‘these f—in’ guys are crazy’…right? They committed. Their commitment was strong enough to do something about it. The commercial ends: Here’s to the crazy ones. Crazy enough to think they can change the world, and what you find out, is those are the kind of people that do change the world. They do change the world. And they make a name for themselves. You know who they are. People know who these guys are. Ali. Everybody knows who that is. Muhammed Ali, The Greatest. They’re crazy enough. They’re crazy enough. Willing to think differently, bold enough to believe it, strong enough in their commitment to make it happen. And they make a name. A name that we all remember. They establish an identity forever.”"

If you’re keeping score at home, that’s seven crazy’s in one paragraph. The man is not scared of a word.