Here is a partial transcript from Jason Garrett's 3 p.m. EST news conference in Dallas earlier today:
Jason Garrett's opening statement after talking about interviewing in Baltimore and Atlanta: "These are great experiences that we had a chance to go through. We told ourselves that we wanted to go through the process and really fully investigate these opportunities. Mr. Jones and Wade Phillips graciously allowed us to do that, and we went through that process, and we got back to Dallas fairly late last night and came to the conclusion that, for a variety of reasons, this is the best place for us. The reasons to me, you can articulate them and they're pretty evident. They start with Jerry Jones and what he has done for this organization, for this league and for giving us the chance to be a part of his team. It's a team that I have a history with, and he does a fabulous job as an owner giving us coaches and our players a chance to win. He's just a special guy. He's been a special guy in my life for a long time, and it starts with him. And then it trickles down to Wade Phillips, our head coach. I had a chance to become the offensive coordinator last year and work with a guy who is as fine a guy as I've met in football and really in life. He's just a tremendous person, a tremendous football coach, and he's great for us as coaches to work for and certainly the players respect him immensely [as] a great guy for them to play for. We made great strides this year. We didn't achieve all of our goals, but we're heading in the right direction and under Jerry's guidance and under Wade's guidance, we [trailed off]. When Brill and I looked at each other, we said, 'Boy, we have a great chance here in Dallas.' We have a great feeling for this place, we have a great feeling for Dallas, we have a great feeling for the Cowboys organization, and a lot of it goes back to our history here. But I think maybe this decision to stay here has a lot more to do with the Dallas Cowboys in 2007 and what the Dallas Cowboys can be in 2008. I was talking to [Cowboys public relations director] Rich Dalrymple before. You go through this process, and we're really fortunate to go through it. I learned a lot as a result of it. But you go through the thing and you realize that you make decisions lots of different ways. You make them intellectually, you make them emotionally, you make them with your gut. There's a lot of different things that go into making important decisions in your life. And I reflected back on the last three days – and I didn't know it at the time – I think I might have made this decision when I was standing in front of our offensive team on Monday after we lost to the Giants. There were some things I wanted to say to them about how fortunate I felt to be one of their coaches and to be coaching with some of the other guys that were in the room, and it was really hard for me to get through it. It was hard. I stopped a number of times, but I was persistent because I wanted to get these thoughts out to the guys in the room and how much I respected them and how much I appreciated them. And when I reflect back on these last few days, I think that meeting told me more than anything else what I needed to know about my feelings about this place – my feelings about this place because of my time here in the past, because of what we can be in the future, but maybe more than anything else, what we are right now. There's some great people in this organization, and it starts at the top and works its way down through our head coach and the other coaches that I have the good fortune of working with, and it filters down to our players. This year was a special year for me, and Brill and I feel like because of this and because of the way we feel about this group of people, this was the right place for us going forward. And we're excited about the prospects for the Cowboys in the future."
On whether he felt himself leaning towards accepting the Ravens' offer: "I don't want to get into anything other than these were great visits with these people. They were great learning experiences, and to be around a guy like Steve Bisciotti and Ozzie Newsome and Dick Cass and some of the other people in that organization I was fortunate to visit with, they're really special people. It was a really unique experience for Brill and I to be able to visit with them in detail, ask them questions, go through the process. So the talks and the discussions were just so positive, and at the end of the day, it's hard not to say, 'Boy, what a great situation this is.' I felt the same way when I went down to Atlanta. But then at the end of it, we told ourselves, 'Let's go through this process,' and we got back here and we tried to evaluate as best we could, and we decided this was the best place for a lot of the reasons I just outlined."
On whether he wants to be a head coach and specifically head coach of the Cowboys: "I think it's important to have goals, and we talk to our players about that all of the time. Our goal is to win the Super Bowl. But one of the things they've heard me say a zillion times is devour the strawberries, squeeze the blood out of the rock, all those expressions that say, 'Let's embrace the opportunity that we have in front of us today.' So I would be disingenuous with you if I said at some point I didn't want to be a head coach in the National Football League. I think it's natural for anyone who's coaching to want to progress, to want to have more responsibility. But having said that, this is a great situation. It really is – for some obvious reasons. I told [running back] Marion Barber the other day in that meeting, 'We're not going to watch a tape of this game.' But I encouraged Marion to watch the tape because if you're Marion Barber and you watch that tape, it's hard not to understand what a football player looks like. And there were a number of other guys that I encouraged to do the same thing. I just think it's unique to be around this group right now. I was fortunate to be around some great players and some great teams. And it's unfair to compare teams and it's unfair to compare players, but there's a feeling I have that feels a lot like it was back then. I'm just excited to be a part of this right now."
On how persuasive Jerry Jones was during their meeting last night: "I don't know that I had my mind made up [during the team meeting Monday]. I think that's me reflecting back on the past few days and my feelings during that meeting. Jerry Jones is someone that I've known for a long time. He's been an important part of my life for a long time, and really he's been an important part of this league and certainly this organization. I have a tremendous amount of respect for him, and we had a great visit. We had a visit on a personal level, we had a visit on a professional level, and I just think a lot of him. I think our conversation was part of the analysis, but there were a lot of things that went into the analysis, and at the end of it, my wife and I felt that this was the best place for us right now. We're really excited to be a part of this team."
On when he made his decision: "It all happened really late in the night."
On when he called Jerry Jones: "It just happened in the middle of the night."
On whether he's ready to be a head coach: "Well, I've answered this question a lot lately because this is the question that people ask you. My response is this: you're never ready to do something until you have done it. Troy Aikman wasn't ready to start his first game in the National Football League until he started it. And then when he won a lot of those games, he wasn't ready to start his first playoff game until he started it. And he wasn't ready to start his first Super Bowl until he started it. Anybody's who done anything in their life for the first time, you're really not ready to do it. But what you do is you rely on the things that got you to that point. You rely on your work ethic, you rely on your confidence, you rely on other people, you rely on your instincts, all those things. That's what I did 11 months ago when I came to this job. I think there were probably some similar questions about my ability to be an offensive coordinator, to be a playcaller and all of those things. And all of those things, I can get a heck of a lot better at. I know that. I'm making my list to do that. But what you need to do is you need to rely on the things that got you to that point, and I would feel very confident that I could go to the next step and be the head coach of an organization."
On if he gained anything from the interviews: "They might tell you otherwise, but people who have that kind of success in life, it doesn't happen by accident. And the kinds of organizations that they're running is reflective of the kind of success that they've had in other businesses. And the cultures that they're creating in Baltimore, the cultures they're creating in Atlanta with their teams, they're special. They're special and they're relying on the success that they've had."
On interviewing in Baltimore and Atlanta: "I want to really reiterate this. This was a really special process for my wife and me to be able to go through. I'm really grateful to the Baltimore organization and the Atlanta organization for allowing us to do it. It was hard to do that, but at the same time, it was really exciting."
On the rarity of being offered a head coaching position: "Like I suggested earlier, these decisions are come to in lots of different ways, and one of them is an intellectual evaluation, and the other ones are emotional and instinctive. We've all made important decision in our lives, and we do them differently and at different times and a lot of times, it's kind of a mish-mash and we say, 'OK, here's what we're doing.' There's an intellectual side of me that kind of outlined the pros and cons of each situation. There was an emotional side and some other sides as well, and I understood that. I understood that these opportunities don't come up every day, and I was thankful for the process, to be able to go through it. To be sitting in front of you today in this chair, it's a special chair for me, to be the offensive coordinator of the Dallas Cowboys. I've been fortunate to be able to do it for the last 11 months, and I'm excited to be able to do it today."
On whether he told Jerry Jones that he would consult with him first before making a decision about the vacancies in Baltimore and Atlanta: "I think I did. I know in my mind that I did. We wanted to go through the process of visiting Baltimore and going through that and then visiting Atlanta and going through that and then coming back here and talking to Jerry and kind of evaluating the Cowboys situation after having gone through those. In my mind, I was going to do that, and I think that was an important part of the process for us."
On whether he was just going through the "exercises" of interviewing or he was serious about filling the vacancies: "No, they were not exercises. They were great opportunities. We had an opportunity during the bye week to meet with each of the teams, and those are great experiences. I'd be crazy not to continue to try to evaluate those situations, and I was fortunate to be able to do that over the last couple of days. They were not exercises."
On whether he should be concerned that other NFL owners would be hesitant to approach him in the future: "I'm not concerned about that. I had a great opportunity to visit these teams the last few days and then to come back here and evaluate them versus the opportunity that I have here in Dallas, and we came to this conclusion. I'm really excited about it. What comes after this, I don't know, but I'm just excited about having the opportunity to be the offensive coordinator for the Cowboys and coach these players and coach with these coaches and to see what we can do in 2008."