- Associated Press - Thursday, January 6, 2011

ARLINGTON, TEXAS (AP) - About 10 minutes into his tenure as coach of the Dallas Cowboys, Jason Garrett had to step aside. Team owner Jerry Jones had something to say.

Garrett had been asked how much authority he would have over choosing his coaching staff and Jones wanted to be the one who answered. It seemed like business as usual for the Cowboys.

Only, it wasn’t.

Jason will have the final say on any person that leaves the coaching staff or comes to the coaching staff,” Jones said. “There won’t be a player on this team that Jason does not want on the team. … That’s the way we’re going to operate.”

So Jones didn’t just change coaches Thursday. He changed his way of doing business. He ceded power and declared the start of a new era, one that could last for a while _ maybe not 29 years like Tom Landry’s tenure, but something along those lines. Garrett is 44 and received a four-year contract.

“You can dream that the thing is in place long term because of his age and, frankly, his background and experience,” Jones said.

Another overwhelming factor is the bond already forged between the Jones and Garrett families.

At least one Garrett has been with the Cowboys for 20 of the 22 seasons that Jones has owned the club.

Jason Garrett just finished his 12th year as a player or coach. His dad, Jim, was a scout when Jones bought the team in 1989 until retiring in 2004. Jason’s brother, John, is the tight ends coach and another brother, Judd, is director of pro scouting. In 2007, Judd’s wife died suddenly and Jones lent the Garrett family his plane for multiple trips; Judd worked for the Rams then.

When Jason’s wife, Brill, arrived at Thursday’s news conference, she was greeted with hugs and kisses from Jones‘ wife, Gene, and their daughter, Charlotte Anderson. They also made space for her to sit between them.

Sure, there’s been excitement, optimism and affection every time the Joneses have welcomed a new coach and his wife to the Cowboys family. But, again, the difference is the Garretts already have been part of the clan.

“I’m just so comfortable with him,” Jones said. “I know him so well. … The thing that I want you to understand is how much I value his judgment.”

Jones said it was important for him to make this public announcement of Garrett’s authority.

“I wanted to make sure our fans knew the extent of his power,” Jones said. “Let’s not be naive. You know that I’m criticized for basically making decisions in areas where fans and other people would like coaches to make. … That’s the reason that I’m being as definitive as I am about this.”

Garrett avoided directly answering whether he requested such decision-making power. Jones said it is not written into the contract.

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