When Jason Garrett leaves his job as head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, he should teach a course in “Politely Evading Questions” at Tarrant County College. No one uses more exacting, polite language to say so little. He makes it look easy, too.
It’s too bad; he is a bright man who can be an exceptionally engaging speaker. He just doesn’t show it often.
On the first full day of training camp, myself and venerable WFAA Channel 8 sports anchor Dale Hansen asked Coach Process about the controversial decision to sign defensive end Greg Hardy.
Back in March when the Cowboys signed Hardy, Hansen went on an epic rant; I called Garrett a hypocrite for stressing “character” and then adding a guy whose track record included an awful case of domestic violence.
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Here is the transcript of Hansen and my questions to Garrett from Thursday on this touchy subject:
DALE HANSEN: Jason, are you concerned at all that the signing of Greg Hardy sends a message that you are soft on domestic violence?
JASON GARRETT: “No, I’m not really concerned about that. I really do believe as an organization we did our due diligence on this and when we took that signing and, really, any signing we have very seriously. We spoke to a lot of different people in his background. Guys going all the way back to high school.
“We have a guy on our staff that went to high school and we know guys from Ole Miss. We know guys from the Carolina Panthers who knew him and really endorsed him. We spent a long time as an organization talking to lot of different people, doing our due diligence and spending a long time with him, talking about what happened, what didn’t happen and had him explain it and we got our arms around it.
“I think the biggest thing that we talked about was do we have the right structure in place to help him. He’s going to go through the process and however the authorities figure out what to do with him, in this case the NFL determining what his penalty is, that’s none of our business. Our business is, if we make this decision, create the right environment for him to become the right kind of guy with our football team. And we got enough information from people that knew him closely really throughout his life that gave us an indication that we think we could do that with him and he deserved another opportunity.”
DH: Why did you and so many teams pass on him coming out of college?
JG: “I wasn’t involved in that discussion when he came out, to be honest with you.”
MAC ENGEL: Along those same lines, you’ve often stressed character among your football players and adding him, given his background, seemed to be outside of those lines; why do you think that he falls into the character that you have stressed?
JG: “Yeah, we’ve talked this expression a lot and you guys have heard me use it publicly and we certainly use it much more privately in our building. We want the right kind of guys on our team, and we believe in that. But we also believe that not everyone when they come to our team is going to be necessarily the right kind of guy or a finished product.
“Really, it’s on us to create the environment that out in them. We bring so many different players to our organization. We evaluate so many players in the draft every year, and we really try our best to figure out what they’re all about, and what makes them tick. Particularly when you’re talking about the draft, there are a lot of things in players’ background: This happened their freshman year; this happened their sophomore year.
“With everybody we saw, if they didn’t have a clean slate, we probably wouldn’t draft many guys. But what we have to do as an organization is we have to work through that. We have to work through that history and figure out what we think the guy is all about or maybe more importantly what the guy can be for himself and for our football team. You make those decisions. There are hard discussions. You go back and forth a lot. You spend a lot of time doing those things whenever you’re thinking about bringing somebody into your organization. At the end of the day, we felt like with Greg and with other players that we’ve brought in here, if they weren’t necessarily the right kind of guy at the time of the signing, that we could create the environment to bring that out in them.”
ME: So you didn’t make exceptions to the rules or your standards to make Hardy a Cowboy?
JG: “I don’t think we have rules. The second word you used is better – standards. Oftentimes those standards are there, and what you’re talking about is you’re talking about something if it’s not happening right now, you don’t see it right now, you better make sure you believe it can happen. I think that’s a big thing in our organization. We believe we can help people grow into being the type of players and people we want them to be.”
Mac Engel, 817-390-7760