IRVING, Texas -- Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett was trying to get some sleep early on Sept. 11, 2001 but the constant blare from the sirens that kept passing his Upper West Side apartment made that nearly impossible.
A backup quarterback with the New York Giants at the time, Garrett had just returned home on an overnight flight from Denver after losing to the Broncos 31-20.
"When you're living in the city, you get used to noise, so I am trying to sleep probably 8:30, 9 o'clock, trying to catch up on the lost sleep from the plane ride back," Garrett said. "I have a vivid memory of fire trucks going past my window and to the point where it was like, 'What is going on?' It was loud and there were sirens and you put the pillow over your head and you wake up and you say, 'What the heck is happening?'"
Eric Bjornson, Garrett's teammate with the Giants, called to ask if he was OK, which Garrett thought was odd.
"He said, 'Turn the TV on,'" Garrett remembered. "So we turn the TV on and obviously all that stuff was going on five miles from where we lived. So it was a day like none other for anybody in our country, certainly, and for us being there close to it, it was an emotional day and it was one I certainly will never forget."
Sunday is the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, and Garrett will be coaching the Cowboys at MetLife Stadium against the New York Jets. He said the team is considering plans to watch tributes to those who died that day or visit Ground Zero, "but those are still a work in progress."
The NFL will have a series of tributes on Sunday to mark the tragedy and teams will wear special 9/11 patches or ribbons.
"I think those ceremonies will be felt in New York maybe as emotionally as anywhere in the country," Garrett said. "We feel proud to be a part of it, the Dallas Cowboys going up there and playing in this game, and we're going to handle it as well as we can handle it."
While the images of the planes crashing into the World Trade Center Towers and the mayhem that ensued remain fresh in his mind a decade later, Garrett remembers the unity that followed, not just in New York City but across the country.
A few days after the attacks, Garrett was at Ground Zero with his teammates handing out water and greeting the first responders. He believes sports helped soothe feelings in a way.
"It's very different than the real-life situations going on, but hopefully in some small way the Giants, the Yankees and the Jets and all the teams that were playing at that time gave those people of that community who were so affected by this event an opportunity to get away from it for three hours," Garrett said. "And we tried to take that responsibility very seriously. We met with the people from the NYPD and different fire departments in the city and just tried to in some small way support them. I think people all around that community did that."
Todd Archer covers the Cowboys for ESPNDallas.com.