- Todd Archer, ESPN Staff Writer
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IRVING -- Jason Garrett will become the seventh coach in the NFL that also had a playing career in the league once the Cowboys introduce him today.
Tennessee's Jeff Fisher was a defensive back for Chicago and just finished his 17th year with the Titans/Oilers. Owner and GM Jerry Jones would like that kind of stability.
Jacksonville’s Jack Del Rio had an 11-year career as a linebacker, including a stint with the Cowboys from 1989-91, and just completed his eighth year as the Jaguars’ coach. Gary Kubiak spent nine years as John Elway’s backup in Denver and just finished his fifth year as Houston’s coach.
Ken Whisenhunt was a tight end for Atlanta, Washington and the New York Jets and is heading into his fifth year as Arizona’s coach. Leslie Frazier spent five years as a cornerback in Chicago and, like Garrett, turned an interim job in 2010 into a permanent post with Minnesota.
New Orleans coach Sean Payton's playing career lasted three games with Chicago during the 1987 strike-seaso. One former player-turned-coach, Mike Singletary, was fired in San Francisco with a game to go.
And there could be other former players added to the mix this off-season: Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh, who played for Chicago, Indianapolis, Baltimore and San Diego, and Atlanta offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey, who played for Minnesota and Pittsburgh, have had interviews recently. And don’t forget Bill Cowher could also come back this year.
Garrett, who retired in 2004, was asked after he took over for Wade Phillips if being a former player helped him reach current players.
“One of the things that you have to guard against is having too much sympathy for the players,” Garrett said then. “It’s hard, and it’s going to be hard. It’s a long season, and we know that. The best players know that. You’ve got to fight through some things. Practices are supposed to be hard. The seasons are supposed to be hard. But if you work at it and you improve individually and as a group, you have a great chance of having success on Sunday.”
Garrett had the players in full pads once a week for at least six of his eight weeks as coach, attempting to create a more physical team.