Familiar Foe

When the Cowboys face the Saints it will be as much a battle of friends as a battle of foes.

There is certainly a mutual admiration between Cowboys coach Jason Garrett and Saints coach Sean Payton.

The two have a relationship that dates back to their days with the Giants when Garrett was a backup quarterback and Payton was the offensive coordinator.

Garrett said he has a ton of respect for Payton as a man and a coach. He gives Payton a lot of credit for turning around the Saints and leading them to their first Super Bowl last season.

"There was no question he was the coach and I was player," Garrett said of their time with the Giants. "It was great experience to be around him. I learned so much on a daily basis."

Clearly, Garrett is hoping to have the same amount of success with the Cowboys. He is 2-0 since taking over for Wade Phillips as interim coach.

A win against the Saints might ensure him getting the job on a permanent basis.

Payton is certainly a believer in Garrett.

"Very early on, when I had a chance to meet him and work with him at the Giants, you just knew that he had a lot of attributes that if he chose someday would serve him well as a coach," Payton said. "He's had a lot of great experiences, certainly starting at Dallas and then throughout his career.

"He's someone I consider a close friend and have always stayed in touch with. I'm excited to see him do well in this opportunity, and it's not surprising at all. Aside from this game, I wish him all the luck in the world."

Of course, the Payton love fest for Garrett didn't stop there. He said he always knew he would be a coach because of his bloodlines and because he was a student of the game as a player.

"There is no question," Payton said. "He was our backup in New York, and he was a guy even when the meetings would be over that I would bounce ideas off. He had a great way about him, and I think one of his great strengths, is his tact, his aptitude and understanding not only the football part of Xs and Os but the people part of it. I think clearly you saw those strengths with him.

"The question was what route he'd want to go. I felt strongly if he chose to get into coaching, that would be something he would be excellent at. Sometimes, the people on the outside would advise a Princeton grad not to go into coaching. I think it's in his blood. I think he comes from a football family, a wonderful family that has provided him a great experience to our game.

"When you look at his bloodlines and where he's been and who he's worked under and played under, all of those things he's been able to take from and shape and really benefit from. He was clearly someone, and I think not just myself but any of the coaches on that Giants' staff or any of the players there, would have viewed as someone that if he chose would do a very good job."

SERIES HISTORY: 24th regular-season meeting. Cowboys lead series, 15-8. New Orleans has won five of the last six. But the Cowboys won last year 24-17 in New Orleans.

CowboysHQ Top Stories