Surprisingly, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and head coach Jason Garrett allowed SI.com’s Peter King to record Garrett’s entire Saturday team meeting to kick off the start of this year’s training camp (see below).
For the folks who only see the robotic version of Garrett during weekly and postgame press conferences, this version of the coach is a lot different.
The biggest difference: On several occasions, Garrett uses a certain four-letter — and sometimes seven-letter — word that starts with F.
Even after Garrett leaves the podium following press conferences and speaks with media members when the cameras are off, he almost never uses a curse word. This video shows he has no problem doing so in front of his players if that’s what it takes to keep them engaged.
Here are some of the highlights.
– “It’s hard to get in this room. Since you were this [expletive] high, you wanted to do it. Have a passion for it. Great attitudes.”
– “The NFL is hard. It’s a journey. It’s [expletive] hard. It’s hard to play one game in the National Football League, let alone 16 of them.”
– “I want Dez Bryant and Mo Claiborne [expletive] here tomorrow one-on-one on the left-hand side. That’s what I want, competing your [butt] off.”
– “You want guys who are leaders. Step up and be a [expletive] leader. Lead this football team. Lead it!”
– “The [coaches] I love to this day, were on my [butt] of every [expletive] minute of every day. I swear to God, I go to their weddings, their kids are getting married, I travel all over the world to see them. They [expletive] grinded me. It was hard. They made me better. That’s my job.”
– “The best [expletive] football teams I’ve been on, the quarterback held them accountable, the middle linebacker held them accountable, the pass rusher held them accountable, the tight end held them accountable. This is how we do stuff. This is the Cowboys. We’re trying to do something!”
– “Distinguish yourself from your play, not with what you say. We have a little bit of society that gets to a point where people want to distinguish themselves. They want to be famous by what they say. Twitter, all that kind of stuff that goes on, what they’re saying. Stick with yourself and your play. Talk about Sean Lee because he’s the best [expletive] Mike linebacker in football. Right? Not because he tweeted something, or said something in a press conference, or whatever.”
DAWN OF A NEW DAY – and football in a new way—starting in the inner sanctum of the Dallas Cowboys
Courtesy: Peter King
OXNARD, Calif. — “Life,’’ Jason Garrett told his team Saturday afternoon, pacing in front of his 90 players, “is about opportunities. The NFL! The Dallas Cowboys! Are you kidding me? Since we were this high we wanted to be here.”
I find myself this morning feeling the same as Garrett. Only I’ve got a different team. It’s called The MMQB, a site under the Sports Illustrated umbrella, using all the means of modern media to disseminate that football prose and information. Unlike Garrett, I haven’t made a speech to fire up the troops. I don’t have much Lombardi in me anyway.
First things first: I’m excited about our first post. I’ve always been intrigued with the speeches coaches make to teams at the start of training camp, in part because I once heard a 1973 tape of Paul Brown’s to his Cincinnati Bengals. I wrote about that speech a year ago. The rules, the expectations, the mundane, the inspirational. In the spring, I knew we’d be kicking off this new site around the start of NFL camps, and I went in search of a team that might let us not only write about a coach’s first speech of the season to his team, but show video of it. In our business today, we’ve all got to get wise to video. So after some convincing, Dallas owner Jerry Jones gave his blessing, along with coach Jason Garrett. And so, on Saturday, in his team meeting room a few long spirals from the Pacific Ocean, Garrett stepped to the front and laid out his hopes, plans, expectations and rules for the new season. To the best of my knowledge, I don’t believe a head coach’s full training-camp speech, the words and video, has ever seen the light of day … until today. We’re proud to bring it to you.
The full 35-minute video can be found here.
Three things I found compelling about Garrett’s presentation:
• Notice how silent it is in the room? Never a peep in 36 minutes, and there was a sensitive microphone at work in the room. You notice it especially when the vague topic of leadership surfaces, and Garrett gets animated. “We want guys who are leaders. Leaders!’’ Garrett said, eyes wide. “Step up and be a leader. Lead this football team. LEAD IT! It’s time! It’s time to lead this football team! It’s your time!’’ When he’d pause, you’d hear nothing—not even a cough. It’s hard to read the mood and feelings of 90 men, of course. But the players’ focus is a sign, to me, that Garrett’s still got the attention of his team, after back-to-back disappointing 8-8 years.
• The son of a coach talks like a coach, paces like a coach and warns that players had better be able to take coaching. “The coaches I hate—that I had a visceral reaction to—were the guys who told me, ‘You’re doing a great job.’ … And allowing me to be as mediocre as mediocre could be,” Garrett said. “None of us need help being mediocre—especially me. Coach my ass! … You been to the Pro Bowl eight times? You’re getting your ass coached. You just got here 15 minutes ago? You’re getting your ass coached. First-round picks, free agents who signed for nothing—everybody’s getting coached.”
• Ever notice the NFL’s getting more and more careful with every utterance? Garrett wants to keep it that way. With the media, Garrett said, players should be “respectful, brief, boring and humble … Distinguish yourself with your play, not what you say.” My favorite thing of everything Garrett said is about tuning out the distractions that flood every NFL locker room. “Don’t listen to the noise,” he said. “Think Einstein listened to the noise? Think Martin Luther King listened to the noise? Be strong enough mentally, be strong enough physically” to tune the distractions out.
“We’re gonna establish an identity that lasts forever,” Garrett told his players. “That starts today.”
Our site, and football America, owe Jones and Garrett (and Cowboys PR VP Rich Dalrymple) a debt of thanks for educating fans on the hidden ritual that, this morning, is no longer hidden.