. Jason Garrett called this year’s Senior Bowl the best he’s experienced in his days as an NFL coach.
Garrett embraced the opportunity to coach in the prestigious game after a disappointing 4-12 season with the Dallas Cowboys, soaking in every moment of it.
Garrett didn’t hesitate when asked after the game if it ranked as the best Senior Bowl experience for him.
“It really was,” Garrett said. “Been here a number of years obviously sitting in the stands and you can do a really good job of evaluating from there, but you can much better job when you’re coaching them. You get a chance to see them in the meeting room, how engaged they are, how they respond, and we have walk-throughs and go out to practice and, again, over the course of the week you try to put them in different situations, see how they respond and then you evaluate them.
“To be up close and personal for the last five or six days has been a real fun experience for us. We had fun coaching them.”
Garrett’s North Team lost the game, 27-16, but that didn’t stop him from coaching to win. He went for it on a fourth-and-3 from his own 27 in the first half, and also tried to score a touchdown instead of settling for a field goal at the end of the third quarter.
In the end, the final score didn’t matter as much as the experience for Garrett and the rest of the coaching staff. For Garrett, the Senior Bowl carries particular importance.
His father, Jim, coached the 1972 North team as a member of the New York Giants’ staff. And Jason Garrett vividly remembers his dad talking about the opportunity to coach a future Hall of Fame running back.
"I'll never forget him saying, 'There's a great running back from Penn State named Franco Harris. I had a chance to coach him,'" Jason Garrett said. "For years afterward, we would see Franco Harris play, and I'd say, 'Dad, didn't you coach him in the Senior Bowl?'
"So all the great ones have been through here. To get a chance to be a part of it is a special experience for us."
The Senior Bowl certainly appreciated the passion and enthusiasm Garrett and his staff brought to this year’s game. Players raved about learning under the coaching staff, and felt they got first-hand exposure to what to expect at the next level.
“I thought they had a ton of enthusiasm and really tried to coach every player,” Senior Bowl executive director Phil Savage said. “I’m positive it was a very productive week for them in terms of getting to know the prospects and giving them a head start on their draft prep.”