Ottawa Rough Riders

Jason Garrett - Quarterback - 1991 - Princeton

John Kryk - Toronto Sun - 23-03-2016

BOCA RATON, FLA. - Jason Garrett maybe can thank Canadian Football Hall of Famer Damon Allen for setting him down a path that allowed him to become the Dallas Cowboys’ head coach.

In 1991 Garrett had an unsuccessful tryout at quarterback with the CFL’s Ottawa Rough Riders.

Well, actually, you pick a scab on Garrett if you call it a mere tryout.

“It was more than a tryout,” he told Postmedia on Wednesday morning, during the NFC coaches breakfast on the last day of the NFL annual meeting.

“I spent about 13 weeks up there in 1991. Lansdowne Park, every day. Damon Allen was our quarterback, Marcus Allen’s younger brother, and he was a fantastic player. John Congemi was on that team.

“I had a great experience up there.”

Garrett was 25 at the time. The Princeton grad had spent his first two years as a pro with the NFL’s New Orleans Saints and San Antonio Riders of the old World League of American Football.

How’d he like three-down football?

“It was a real challenge,” Garrett said. “The field is 65 yards wide. Those throws from one hash mark to the other were far, and challenging. But it was a great experience.

“Damon was a really, really good player. I learned a lot from him, and I really enjoyed my time up there.”

If Allen hadn’t been there, who knows if Garrett might have made the Rough Riders and carved out a pro career in Canada?

As it was, Garrett returned to the States. In 1993 he landed a backup job with the Cowboys, and was third-stringer behind starter Troy Aikman on Jimmy Johnson’s second consecutive Super Bowl championship team.

Garrett strung out an NFL career through 2004 as a career clipboard-holder and injury replacement.

The Miami Dolphins made him their quarterbacks coach in 2005, and just five years later the Cowboys named him head coach, a job he’s had ever since.


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