DALLAS (CBS11 SPORTS) – Jason Garrett comes into his 8th full season as Cowboys head coach knowing this is going to be a pivotal season. With the NFL draft quickly approaching, Garrett is swamped with meetings. Tuesday morning, he broke away to deliver a motivational speech at the Arlington Convention Center for the Albertsons Companies team building meeting. CBS11 was allowed exclusive access to the event.

Jason Garrett (CBS11 Sports)

Garrett approached the speech with a multi-pronged message. Instead of offense, defense and special teams, his focus was leadership, teamwork, how to select the right team members and respect. During his 25 minute speech (the entire speech can be seen below), he started by saying “when you’re a leader….lead!!….don’t manage…lead!” Richard Gordon, a Tom Thumb Store Director in Fort Worth offered this after hearing those words. “I thought that was inspirational. A lot of times, I second guess myself. You shouldn’t do that. Go with your gut decision. Get out there and lead!”

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Garrett’s second stanza involved an anecdote from a time when he had the Cowboys visit the Navy Seals headquarters in Coronado, California, during their trip to training camp. He says what perplexed him more than anything was how the Seals pair down their roster to around 20 guys, when they have around 150 trying to make the team. Unlike a football team, where it’s pretty straight forward to see which guys have more talent, all of the prospective Seals doing the drills, appeared to be the same. Garrett broke down and asked the commander how he chose his team. He replied, “I take the ones who keep their arm straight!” Unsure, what to make of that, Garrett asked the commander to explain. He replied “You really think we use the rubber boats? You really think we use the logs? Their arms are shaking and shaking and shaking. We do it again and again. Ultimately, we decide that the ones… who when their arms are shaking… they refuse to give in. They fight and won’t stop. We keep those guys. What we found was the guys who refuse to give up and keep their arms straight, they’re gonna be the same ones when we’re fighting the enemy, are going to fight to do their job. They’re going to fight to accomplish their mission and most importantly have the other guy’s back.” The commander turned and walked away. Since then, Garrett says he has used this example in his selection of the Cowboys annual roster. Susan Morris, Chief Operations Officer for the Albertsons Companies, said “I thought it was a motivational way to think about being persistent and perservering against your competition, and fighting to win every day.”

The most emotional part of Garrett’s presentation came when he spoke about his late father, Jim Garrett, who passed away in February, at the age of 87.

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Jim Garrett (Dallas Cowboys – YouTube)


Garrett told of how his dad and mom were married for 59 years. Jim Garrett had eight kids, 29 grand kids, and one great grandchild. He was in football for over 60 years, as a player, coach, and scout. During the viewing, the Garrett children were told it would last five hours from 3 o’clock to 8 o’clock. It was held in New Jersey and Jason Garrett asked himself with so many of his father’s friends now gone, who would attend? However, when he checked his watch and it was nearly 8 o’clock, the line to see his father, was still going. Coach Garrett says he heard the words…”I’m here to pay my respects” over 500 times that day. Getting choked up at this time, Garrett says “It struck me the importance of that word at the end of your life and your career…it means everything.” Garrett went on to explain that respect is a noun and a verb… “to carry yourself with high regard. Living 87 years….demonstrating respect….high regard for yourself and the people around you…respecting the challenge of life and the opponent…people will pay respect to you. If you do that for 20 years of your career and many years before that, people will tip their cap to you. But in order to get respect, you have to give respect.”

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Garrett closed by telling the more than 300 people in attendance, to put that in the forefront of their corporate culture. Afterwards, he told me he’s glad the group seemed to enjoy his message. Football and life have several parallels. Before leaving, he talked to me about his father… “He was a great guy. I was so fortunate to have him as my dad and my biggest influence in my life. He lived a full life. My brothers and sisters, and our spouses, and my mom, we all committed to keep telling these stories to keep his spirit alive. He’s had a positive impact on a lot of people.”