Jason Garrett ’89 always did play pretty well in New Jersey. In his debut as a head coach, Garrett led the Dallas Cowboys to their own star turn in the Garden State, a 33-20 upset victory over the New York Giants Nov. 14.
Garrett, a former All-Ivy quarterback, was promoted from offensive coordinator to head coach early last week, becoming the first Princeton alumnus to lead an NFL team. The job came with an “interim” tag and a daunting challenge: to turn around the underachieving Cowboys in the season’s final eight weeks. After taking the first step toward that goal, Garrett preached consistency. “One of the things that we emphasize to our players is to come to work each day,” he said in the postgame press conference. “Be great on Wednesday, let’s be great Thursday and Friday, and that gives you a chance to be great on Sunday.”
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In the week leading up to Garrett’s debut, the new coach drew consistent praise from Princeton’s football family. Head coach Bob Surace ’90, a former teammate, described Garrett as a detail-oriented person who used to design football plays in his notebook before classes. Current tight end Harry Flaherty ’11, Garrett’s nephew, said his uncle “wants to get the most out of people.” Steve Verbit, the only current Princeton coach who was on the staff in Garrett’s playing days, told The Sporting News that the Cowboys had made a “phenomenal choice.”
As congratulatory e-mails and text messages piled up in Garrett’s phone, most went unanswered. His goal was to keep his mind on game preparation. “I’m not overly concerned about getting back with everybody,” Garrett told the Associated Press. “I think they understand that I appreciate the support.”