The New York Giants' team charter hadn't landed at Newark Liberty International Airport until just before 6 a.m. All Giants backup quarterback Jason Garrett wanted was some sleep as he crawled into bed in his Upper West Side apartment at 8:30 the morning of Sept. 11, 2001.
Instead, only a few minutes later, the shrill of sirens awakened him.
That quickly was followed by a phone call from former Cowboys teammate Eric Bjornson.
"Are you guys all right?" Bjornson wanted to know.
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Garrett turned on his television to find an airplane had crashed into the north face of the World Trade Center, only five miles from his apartment.
"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," Garrett said, "and it was one I certainly will never forget."
Garrett later heard, as relayed by a flight attendant on the Giants' charter, the team plane had parked at a gate next to United Flight 93. That flight, an 8 a.m. departure to San Francisco, later crashed in a field in rural Pennsylvania after being hijacked.
Garrett and his Giants teammates spent the next few days passing out water and meeting with firefighters, hoping in some small way to help the healing.
"I remember... there was a big call to give blood and a lot of people were very excited to do that and help out any way that they could, to the point where at some point they were making announcements, 'We have so much blood we can't tell you,'" Garrett said. "I think that was the spirit of it soon after that event, because it was a tragic event. But my most distinct memories are how everyone rallied after the event."
The Cowboys will commemorate the 10th anniversary of a day that changed the world when they play the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium tonight.
Lady Antebellum will sing the national anthem as players from both teams hold a giant American flag. At halftime, actor Robert DeNiro will narrate a moment honoring 9-11 victims.
It promises to be one of the most emotional season openers in history.
"I think when you live in this country, in general, you feel blessed to have some of the freedoms that we have," said quarterback Tony Romo, who was at Eastern Illinois when 9-11 happened. "So much of that goes to the people who sacrifice so much overseas and during 9-11. I'm just lucky to be in this country, and thankful we get an opportunity to go out and play on that day and show those people we appreciate everything they ever did. It's an amazing, special feeling."
9-11 is one of the few events in the country's history where everyone remembers where they were. Some were closer than others.
Cowboys receivers Jesse Holley and Miles Austin were in high school in New Jersey on 9-11. Holley was in Roselle, 20 miles from Manhattan, while Austin was in Garfield, 16 miles away. Both remember seeing the smoke rising from the burning World Trade Center.
"Every TV in the school was turned on the news," Holley said. "We just watched the horrific scenes of people running and these planes crashing into the buildings. You could only hope and pray that the people you knew there were safe and sound."
Defensive end Sean Lissemore lived in Dumont, N.J. His memory is of the jets and helicopters flying over football practice, but his chief concern that day was for his father, who worked in Manhattan.
"I went home for lunch and called my father," Lissemore said. "He was OK, but he didn't get home until 11 o'clock that night. It took him 10 hours to get out of New York City. It was hectic, mayhem. He packed as many guys as he could into his van and tried to drop people in New Jersey, get them out of New York City."
Lissemore's birthday, which is Sept. 11, is one of the things that has forever been changed by the events 10 years ago.
"It used to be just a day that was my birthday, and now it's one of the most tragic days in the country's history," Lissemore said. "You try to celebrate it for yourself, but you realize that there's a bigger thing going on there. You've got to be respectful of that. It's unfortunate for my birthday, but life goes on."