On the sidelines with the Garrett brothers

As civil wars go, it may not have been the blue and the gray, but when the blue-and-silver clad Dallas Cowboys took on the blue-and-gold St. Louis Rams in late September, the game did pit brother against brother. In this case, those brothers were Dallas assistants Jason Garrett ’89, the team’s offensive coordinator, and John Garrett ’88, the tight ends coach, against their younger brother, St. Louis assistant Judd Garrett ’90, who coaches the Rams’ tight ends.

Though the brothers always have been close, there is little time for fraternization in the NFL. The three met at John’s house for a quick dinner the night before the game but had time only to say goodbye after the Cowboys won 35–7, and the Rams had to leave for the airport. “I always want my brothers to do well,” Judd says, “but once you’re playing against them, you want your team to win.”

The Garretts inherited the coaching gene from their father, Jim, a longtime NFL assistant and scout who also served as Columbia University’s head coach in 1985. Jim Garrett was fired after one 0–10 season, a decision that had beneficial repercussions for Princeton. Jason, who had spent his freshman year at Princeton before transferring when his father took the Columbia job, transferred back. John, who was a Columbia sophomore, followed, while Judd, a high school senior who had been accepted at both schools, decided to enroll at Princeton. All three were named to All-Ivy squads, and Jason won the Asa S. Bushnell ’21 Cup as Ivy player of the year in 1988.

Remembering Kathy Garrett ’91

The Princeton women’s soccer team held a moment of silence before its Oct. 13 game against Columbia in memory of Kathy Kobler Garrett ’91, who died suddenly of an apparent heart attack Aug. 19 at age 38. Garrett was a soccer captain and All-American. “She was the perfect midfielder,” recalls Kathryn Hamm ’91. “She played with incredible precision, yet she was always out there doing the work.” Garrett also was an All-Ivy softball player. Teammate Leslie Silverman ’92 remembered Garrett’s “exceptional speed, but there was grace to that speed.” After college, she worked as a personal trainer and coached youth soccer while helping to raise four children. Said husband Judd Garrett ’90: “I think she represented what Princeton is all about.”

At the end of his playing days, during which he won two Super Bowl rings as a backup for the Cowboys, Jason was hired as quarterbacks coach for the Miami Dolphins, where he impressed enough people that Dallas hired him as the offensive coordinator last winter before the team even had decided on a new head coach. John worked as an assistant with three NFL teams and coached receivers at the University of Virginia before Jason hired him for the Cowboys staff. Judd, meanwhile, helped his father coach high school football in Ohio for a year while trying to sign on with an NFL staff. Eventually he, too, moved on to Miami, and when Dolphins assistant Scott Linehan was hired as the Rams’ head coach in 2006, he took Judd with him.

Dallas looks like a Super Bowl contender this season. During games, Jason prowls the sidelines, calling in plays, while fielding reports and suggestions from John, who works in the coaches’ box high atop the stadium. In an adjoining box, Judd tries to pick apart defensive coverages that might help his tight ends make a gain. He also has been coping with the responsibility of raising four young children following the sudden death of his wife, Kathy Kobler Garrett ’91, last summer. (See sidebar.)

All three brothers cite their father’s influence and his availability as a source of wisdom and coaching experience. “A lot of stuff dad shared — professionalism, how to approach the game — is so important,” Jason says. He adds that he appreciated the unique opportunity to coach with Judd in Miami and with John now. John returns the compliment. “[Jason] is not only a brother,” he says. “He’s my friend.”