OXNARD, Calif. -- Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett is big on offering his team reminders on what is important.
He has posters littered throughout the meeting rooms and hallways of the team’s Valley Ranch facility. Some of them have made their way to Oxnard, California, for training camp as well.
He also has offered up simple dark blue t-shirt without any sort of logo. It just has one word.
“Every day it’s a fight to be your best, whatever your field of endeavor you have,” Garrett said. “We talk about that a lot, and it’s really an important thing to understand. This is a unique opportunity that we all have -- to play and coach for the Dallas Cowboys in the National Football League. It’s a fight to be your best -- it’s not a fight to try your best, it’s a fight to be your best. There are a lot of things that go into being your best: The preparation you have, getting yourself ready mentally and physically and emotionally each and every day.
"I think it’s a simple way to say it. You’re fighting for yourself, to reach your potential; you’re fighting for your teammates; you’re fighting for your goals. There are 90 guys in this training camp right now, we’re going to keep 53 of them, and then bring eight of them back on the practice roster. So every day, somebody is fighting for a roster spot. There are guys who probably will make our roster who are fighting for roles, there are guys who are fighting for starting spots, there are guys who are fighting to be the best player at their position in the National Football League. Obviously we’re all fighting for our team goals that we want to accomplish, so there’s a lot of different kinds of fight in life. When you put that t-shirt on you’ve got to remember that and remind yourself of that.”
The t-shirt symbolizes different things to different players.
“To me ‘fight’ is just really what you bring to the table,” center Travis Frederick said. “Putting everything that you have out there to do the best for the team. I think there’s been a lot of different things said about it and what it means, but for me it’s really about bringing all that you have out there, all that you have to the competition so you can be your best.”
Fight means don’t give up. Fight means work hard. Fight means be physical. Fight means attacking the monotony of training camp, even in the early stages.
“It’s not just a theme,” defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli said. “It’s that moment, that day. Fight, Just fight. Every snap. Just that and for the entire right. It’s easier said than done.”
Fight means more than just football.
“Just get the job done and go out each and every day because it is a fight out here,” said cornerback Morris Claiborne, who nearly took the word literally on Day 1 in a tussle with wide receiver Terrance Williams. “You’ve got to go out there and fight for what you want because it’s not going to be given to you. That’s in life and in any sport period.”
What’s the difference between being your best and trying your best?
Garrett offers this explanation:
“I didn’t study for the exam. The exam was three hours, they hand me the blue book and I write my (butt) off. It’s unbelievable -- I’m sweating, I can’t tell you how much I’m trying, right? Here you go, teacher ... 62.
"The guy goes to class, studies, does what he’s supposed to do, day-in, day-out. When that exam comes he puts a little bib on because he’s slobbering -- he’s so excited to answer the questions, right? Because he’s ready. He’s ready to be his best. It’s not about trying your best in life, it’s about being your best and doing everything you can to be your best in all the endeavors you choose.”