In his office first-year coach Barry Switzer thinks about the game against Green Bay, about how, with Aikman out with a badly sprained left knee and backup quarterback Rodney Peete sidelined with a sprained right thumb, third-stringer Jason Garrett started and passed for 311 yards and two touchdowns. Switzer, the old wishbone coach from Oklahoma, may be the luckiest man on earth. Or maybe he's just good. Everybody had said that Johnson was irreplaceable as the Dallas coach. But at this time last year Johnson was 7-4. Switzer is 10-2.
"The Redball Express," says Switzer, grinning. "Old Jason." Switzer likes the red-haired, 28-year-old Garrett, likes him a lot. Garrett may be a small, unspectacular player, but he's smart, and Switzer has spent many hours talking to him, learning what an NFL passing attack is all about. "I watched Rudy Saturday morning on TV, and then at night I saw Field of Dreams" says Switzer. "And then on Thursday I have that." Oh, it's rich. Switzer knows what a wild ride life can be. "I'm having fun," he says.
This night Switzer does a guest spot on The Sports Wave TV show, broadcast from a noisy fast-food restaurant called Miami Subs Southwestern. When host Mike Doocy says to him, "If you had to give yourself a grade right now, what would it be?" Switzer fires back, "Better than Bill Clinton's!" The audience roars.
During a late dinner at Morton's of Chicago, in Addison, a suburb of Dallas, Switzer watches the San Francisco 49er- New Orleans Saint Monday-night game while drinking a glass of red wine. He is less interested in the score than in a newsbreak that announces that the Cowboys are set to hire three minorities for upper-management positions in the organization.
"Yessir!" he whoops and then high-fives a dinner partner, Danny Bradley, one of his former quarterbacks at Oklahoma. Bradley, who is black, will most likely be one of those hired, and Switzer has pushed hard for the deal. No matter that the NAACP had threatened to organize a boycott of Cowboy games if the team did not create some minority posts in management—this is progress. Switzer has a unique relationship with black players. "When I was a kid in Pine Bluff, Arkansas," Bradley says, "I used to dream about playing for him at Oklahoma. Every black kid knew you could actually play quarterback there."
Switzer is so euphoric that he grabs a portable phone and calls his daughter, Kathy, in Norman, Okla. No matter that it's midnight. "I love you, honey," he says. "I love you so much." He hangs up and gets another notion. "Let's call Jerry," he says.
"Uh, coach," says Bradley nervously, aware that Jones is recovering from a bad cold. Switzer ignores him and dials away.
"Hi, Gene?" says Switzer, greeting Jerry's wife. "It's Barry. Is the boss there?" There is a pause, no doubt, as Mrs. Jones hands the phone to her no-longer-sleeping husband.
" Jerry Jones, you sumbitch!" says Switzer. "How you doing? I love you."