IRVING, Texas – Most people know about defensive coordinator Rob Ryan’s recent history with the Browns, but not as many may know about head coach Jason Garrett’s history in Cleveland.
Garrett spent many of his childhood years in Cleveland while his father was an assistant coach with the Browns, and still has ties to the city.
“I have great memories of the Browns,” Garrett said. “My dad coached there for eight years in the late ’70s and early ’80s. If you remember, that was the time of the ‘Kardiac Kids.’”
Sam Rutigliano was the head coach back then, while the quarterback was Brian Sipe. Garrett said he was a huge Sipe fan, and he still remembers attending one of the coldest games in NFL history between the Browns and Raiders in the 1980-81 playoffs.
“We were there early and we were completely invested,” Garrett said. “The Browns had been so good coming back over and over and over again that year. I think they literally had eight or nine wins where they came from behind. Everybody just thought it was going to be the same kind of thing. Sipe took them down the field and unfortunately there was a little miscommunication or whatever happened, and they threw an interception in the end zone and 80,000 people went silent. It was a sad day in Cleveland.”
Garrett told the Cleveland media he had nothing but incredibly fond memories of growing up in Cleveland Heights, where he moved when he was in the seventh grade.
He said he doesn’t get back as much as he’d like to, but he’ll always remember the people he grew up with, the coaches he played for through high school. Garrett attended high school at University School, where his oldest brother, Jim, still works.
“He’s not coaching there right now, but he coached a number of years,” Garrett said. “He’s the head of the English department. He’s probably been at US approaching 30 years now, which is hard to believe. I had the good fortune of going back for graduation in June, so I got a chance to see him in that environment and so many of my other old teachers and coaches. Still strong connections out there.”
Garrett still remembers the passion the Cleveland residents had for the Browns while he was growing up. The Browns went to the playoffs in 1980 and 1982 while his father was the running backs coach.