- older than even Troy Aikman. And his game-day locker nearly always was next to 8-Ball's, so the unassuming Red-Ball, sort of blending in as if mere woodwork, keenly listened to how these post-game grilling sessions went. Believe me, he probably took better mental notes than most reporters took physically.
Of course designing an offense and calling plays in the NFL is much more difficult than diffusing a rabid media, which he did so effortlessly, it was almost comical.
But here's what I'm getting at for those a tad concerned Garrett will be in over his head this season, and this is not to say there won't be a learning curve for even an Ivy Leaguer this season. You got to like his composure, and if nothing else, the guy calling your plays better not be all emotional, flying off the handle and making rash decisions.
That guy has to be prepared. This guy, shoot, go worry about something else.
That guy can't be stubborn, and I've seen a stubborn or two offensive coordinators come through here during my day. Jason, oh, he'll listen all right, and even when he listens to you, you get the feeling he's filtering what you're saying as you speak.
And maybe, too, your offensive guy needs to have a little aura about him, not to be confused with aloofness, which some guys think is a suitable substitute. Just this presence the players will recognize, a cool combination of wanting to be around the guy yet knowing not to cross him.
"He has a real feel even though he is a real sharp guy," said Phillips, a tad more serious after taking his playful jab. "But there are a lot of smart people with not a lot of common sense - no offense to those people. He's got a feel about him that he can relate real well to all the other people.
"He gets the point over. I think the great thing about him, and especially with the guys who have played the game, is that they tend to hold the players accountable. If they were accountable as players, they tend to hold that over players, and he does a real good job of that."
Now of course, all these are but indicators, just clues of what Jason Garrett might be - might become - as an offensive coordinator for the Cowboys, this year and maybe for years to come. And even he knows no one in this league is judged by intangibles.
Wins and losses, baby. Points. Decisions.
But the guy, to me, is a cool customer, and you'll love the way he handled this loaded question, and one fudged a little because the previous day when Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was asked if he thought Owens would be a bigger key in the team's offense this year - the assumption I guess being now that the stubborn Bill Parcells is gone - he said, "I thought he was a key part last year," sort of taking exception to the question.
But the truth didn't stop someone from quizzing Garrett about Jones saying he expected Owens to be a bigger part of the offense this year. Oh boy, here ya go, backing the new coordinator into a corner.
"Terrell Owens is a good player, Terry Glenn is a good player, Jason Witten is a good player, the runners are good players, the line is good, so as a coach, you are really excited about that and you want to try to feature every one of those guys," said Garrett, the question merely putty in his hands. "If there is anything I learned here from my time playing is that the coach (Norv and Ernie) did a great job of that. We did things that Emmitt Smith did well, what Jay Novacek did well, and Michael Irvin and Alvin Harper, and on down the line. And obviously with the quarterback. And those guys were very good players and we did a lot of things well, and I don't want to make comparisons to those guys, but we're excited about our group and working with them and getting them to execute at a high level."
Makes you sort of smile.
"(Owens has) been really good, really good," Garrett said. "He's a guy I heard a lot of great things about as a practice player throughout his career, from guys who have coached him and from guys who have played with him, and that's what I found out so far. He's an interested guy. We've been trying to talk to him about what his role is, and he's been very receptive to that."
Talk about diffusing a