Jason Garrett reflects on Cowboys past, broadcasting present, coaching future

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Jason Garrett is the kind of guy who always comes across as calm, cool, and collected. Maybe even to a fault. During nearly a decade as head coach of the Cowboys, that unflappable demeanor didn’t always sit well with fans who might have liked a bit more fire from time to time. But things very rarely seemed to truly rattle the man they called Red Ball.

Still, he admits that during his first weekend in the broadcast booth for NBC’s coverage of the USFL, there was a steep learning curve.

“I don’t know if the word is nervous,” he explained, “but there’s a lot of stuff that goes into being an announcer. And obviously, I don’t have a ton of experience with that, but I was just trying to have some fun up there.”

Garrett did a Friday morning phone-in with the crew at 105.3 The Fan, and it was just like the old days, with the ex-coach soft-selling what went right from the previous game, putting a positive spin on lessons that could be learned, and looking ahead to the next time out.

The 56-year-old said getting into a rhythm with booth partner Jac Collinsworth, figuring out which monitor to be watching when, taking a producer’s cues in his headset, and enhancing the on-field action for the viewers with engaging patter between plays all took some getting used to.

While he did do a few NFL Europe games for Fox Sports toward the end of his playing career, Garrett hinted that he tried to draw largely on advice he had learned first-hand from one of the true legends.

“John Madden’s the one that everybody points to,” Garrett offered. “I was fortunate; in the ’90s, John Madden and Pat Summerall did almost every one of our games, so we developed great relationships- personal relationships- with those guys. Just to hear John Madden do a game, obviously, he’s the best of the best.”

But Garrett may not necessarily be ready to follow in Madden’s footsteps by abandoning coaching forever for a permanent broadcast gig. When asked about a return to the sidelines, he reverted right back to coachspeak by giving a non-answer of an answer that’s wide open for interpretation.

“I love coaching. I love players, I love building teams, all of that. This was just an opportunity that came up this offseason,” Garrett said. “It just sounded like something that was going to be interesting and fun to do. So I’m diving in right now, but all doors are open in the future.”

For a time, it looked as if the next door to open for Garrett would be in the college ranks. Shortly after being dismissed as the Giants offensive coordinator in November 2021, he was rumored to be the frontrunner for the head coaching job at Duke University.

The Blue Devils ultimately went a different direction, but Garrett says the notion of one day taking over a collegiate program has a lot of upside.

“You get these kids coming in- 17, 18 years old- and you have an opportunity to be around them and create an environment for them where they can be their best, on and off the field, at a very formative time in their life,” he said. “That’s always something that’s intrigued me. I’ve been in pro football my whole life: the last 31 years as a player and a coach, so I’m not going to say college football is foreign to me, but I just haven’t done it. I haven’t been a college coach. But those opportunities are always intriguing.”

No matter Garrett’s next stop, it will always be his time with the Cowboys that makes up the bulk of his resumé. And even though his tenure in Dallas ended sooner than he might have liked- and with far less hardware than anyone associated with the team would have wanted- it doesn’t change how he looks back now on his many years with America’s Team.

“I loved every minute of every day that I was playing and coaching for the Dallas Cowboys,” Garrett said. “What a unique experience, to be a part of some of the teams that I was around, to get a chance to work with some of the coaches and the players, the organization. It’s an incredible place. Literally, I never worked a day I was there; I’d get there early, and I’d stay late. We’d go to work every day, but it was never working.”

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