IRVING, Texas -- After every game, win or lose, Jason Garrett makes a couple of phone calls. One is always to his father, Jim, a longtime Dallas Cowboys scout and NFL assistant coach.
This week, Garrett is preparing for his first playoff game as the Cowboys' head coach. After three straight 8-8 finishes with Week 17 losses each time to keep the Cowboys out of the playoffs, things came together for Garrett when he needed them most.
He is in the final year of his contract, and there has been much speculation about his future. Though owner and general manager Jerry Jones has consistently said he sees Garrett as his coach for years to come, there has not been an extension yet, but having a 12-4 record on the résumé sure helps.
Garrett has not really changed his message since taking over for Wade Phillips midway through the 2010 season. He talks about the process and being your best each day and playing well at home, on the road, in the parking lot or on the moon.
His consistency of message comes from his father.
For more than 30 years, Jim Garrett ran every day. It didn’t matter if it was too hot or too cold, too windy or too nice, too rainy or too snowy, at home or on the road -- but we’re not sure about the moon -- he ran.
"It’s pretty amazing," Jason Garrett said. "We made a lot of jokes about it through the years, but there’s a real message that he’s sent by greeting each day, and about work ethic and consistency and all of that. He demonstrated that in many things beyond just his running in the morning. But it’s certainly had a huge impact on his life and a lot of the lives around him."
Fathers influence sons in everything they do. Those playful shoves Garrett gives his players after big plays or big wins come from his father. When Jim Garrett was the Cleveland Browns' running backs coach, he would have his players over for Thanksgiving dinner.
Greg Pruitt, Mike Pruitt, Cleo Miller, Grant Hill and Charles White shared meals with the Garretts.
"My dad would describe [White] as the toughest guy [he’s] ever been around," Garrett said. "You could hit him in the face with a shovel. It’s a great image. But Charles White comes in and says, 'Hey, Jase, does your dad kind of hit you in the chest and say, "Hi, ya doing, Jason?"'
"I said 'You know, sometimes.' 'Well he does it to me and says, "Hi ya doing Charlie."' He was like, 'Should I hit him back?' That was the manifestation of his enthusiasm."
Passion, emotion and enthusiasm are some of Garrett’s tenets.
"He’s the most enthusiastic inspirational person I know," Garrett said. "There’s nobody even close, and just his spirit and the way he goes about his life, the example he set for me, for my brothers and sisters and really for everybody around him is really, really special."
As Cowboys coach, Garrett is hoping his consistency of message continues as the Cowboys return to the playoffs Sunday when they take on the Detroit Lions at AT&T Stadium. Throughout the season, players have parroted his sayings. Tony Romo has offered up, "Be the best version of yourself," the past few weeks.
"He’s as real as they come," cornerback Orlando Scandrick said. "He doesn’t sugarcoat things. The things that he says is the things that he really believes, and the things that it takes. I respect Jason even more, because he was on a winning team. He played in the NFL for 17 years and won three Super Bowls. The guy has been there."
Now he is trying to take the Cowboys with him to the heights he experienced as Troy Aikman’s backup quarterback.
Win or lose Sunday, he will call his dad after the game.