It’s Exhibit A as to why change was mandatory for the Dallas Cowboys.
In a recent interview with 105.3 The Fan, NFL Network insider Jane Slater peeled back the curtain on the internal conflict that gripped the Cowboys under former head coach Jason Garrett, who was defied rather than deified by his players.
At least one of those players, per Slater, explicitly told Garrett to “f**k off” and, worse, relayed to the 53-year-old that his functional power within the organization had been castrated — by his boss.
“I had seen a screenshot exchange between Jason Garrett and a player, where a player basically told Jason to ‘F-off’ and basically said, ‘Jerry [Jones] told me I don’t have to listen.’ If that was going on, and players thought they could go over the coach’s head, you’re sort of tying the coach’s hands.”
Slater did not disclose the player’s name nor reveal when this alleged incident took place. But it’s entirely believable that Garrett would be so severely disrespected given the persistent mediocrity which marred his decade-long reign as Cowboys coach.
Then again, this was an extreme circumstance, an outlier for public consumption. Despite his own shortcomings and the team’s disappointing 8-8 finish to this season, culminating in wholesale staff changes, multiple players uttered nothing but support for Garrett when it became clear that his ousting was imminent.
Even the man who took Garrett’s job, former Packers HC Mike McCarthy, heaped praise on The Clapper, calling him a “class act” who’s “done an incredible job in his career here.”
Interestingly, McCarthy also pushed back against the notion that Jones so invasively meddles in Dallas’ affairs — that he’s the real head coach, using others as surrogates, as the undisclosed player implied.
“I’ve seen zero evidence of that,” he said Friday on 1053 The Fan. “He wants to win. He wants to win more than anybody. And as an NFL coach, that’s all you can ask for.”
Follow the Heavy on Cowboys Facebook page for the latest breaking news, rumors, and content!
Jones’ Statement on Garrett’s Dismissal, Comments After
If there’s veracity to Slater’s claim, the Cowboys’ owner did his best to hide it on Jan. 5, when Jerry Jones released a 204-word message celebrating Garrett for his 10 years of service in the big seat.
“We are extremely grateful to Jason Garrett for his more than 20 years of service to the Dallas Cowboys as a player, assistant coach and head coach,” Jones said. “His level of commitment, character and dedication to this organization has been outstanding at every stage of his career. In his nine full years as a head coach, he guided our team to three division championships while also having them in position to play for the NFC East title in the last game of the year in four other seasons. His tenure of leadership will be characterized by his ability to produce teams that always played with great effort, emotion and passion, and he represented our organization with great pride, loyalty and respect.”
“Jason Garrett’s legacy with the Dallas Cowboys will always be that of someone who strived for greatness every day that he walked through the door, and as someone who instilled the virtues of enthusiasm, hard work and appreciation for the profession in all of the men who played with him and for him.”
“He is, and always will remain, a cherished member of the Dallas Cowboys family, and his contributions to the organization are greatly appreciated.”
Jones, however, took a different position during McCarthy’s introductory press conference on Jan. 8. ESPN’s Ed Werder had reported that Dallas lacked “fear, accountability and discipline” under Garrett, a classic player’s coach, and Jones seemed to hit on those qualities in talking up his replacement.
“One of our primary goals in selecting the next coach of the Dallas Cowboys was to focus on improving, team builder and winner,” he said. “Someone who’s got a proven track record of winning, not only consistently but at the highest level. In Mike McCarthy we found a coach who not only checked those boxes but also has the experience of taking an NFL team to the biggest stage — the Super Bowl — and completing the job.”
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL