FRISCO, Texas – Through the years, Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones has always praised Jason Garrett's class as much as his coaching ability.
Perhaps there is no better example than last week, when Jones told Garrett that he planned to interview Mike McCarthy for the head coaching job following the team's 8-8 finish to the 2019 season.
"(Jason) said, 'You're not going to meet anybody more special than Mike. I love his story, I love him, he's great,'" Jones recalled. "To give you an idea of a class act, that's it right there, in both cases."
The Cowboys announced last Sunday that they would not seek a contract extension with Garrett, the team's full-time head coach from 2011-2019. McCarthy is now the ninth head coach in the franchise's history, formally introduced Wednesday in a press conference inside Ford Center at The Star in Frisco.
During the 50-minute media session, most of the discussion centered around McCarthy's credentials and expectations. But Jones did address the team's difficult decision not to renew Garrett's deal after nine full seasons on the job.
"Of the 30 years I've been with the Cowboys, I've written a check to the Garretts. All but two years," Jones said, citing his past work with Jason's father Jim in the front office, as well as Jason's brothers Judd and John. "I've had a great 30 years around the Garrett family.
"I do not only respect what he brought, helped (building) what we're sitting in, helped what we're doing. Their family has been a part of that in their own way. As we all know, not the way -- it took too many people, too many former players, coaches, everybody involved, to get to be sitting here today. But I felt strongly about that, and we all wanted this to have a very nice, if possible under the circumstances, soft landing."
Garrett's future with the team was a source of national speculation last week as the Cowboys pondered next steps after the season. But Cowboys chief operating officer Stephen Jones said the front office maintained a good line of communication with Garrett throughout the process.
"We've had communication with Jason every step of the way, and we wanted to be very respectful," Stephen said. "And pretty much all of our action was in line with what Jason wanted. We have nothing but the utmost respect for him, and we used his timeline and he understood that we were having to do our job too."
Ultimately, the decision was made to part ways. But that doesn't change the Joneses' feeling about Garrett as a coach or person.
"Certainly most of what you criticize about Jason you should criticize me for," Jerry said. "And I say that not trying to be big-boy here, but I'm just saying you should. But he's a great guy, he's got a great family, and we know that it's going to be good for him."