- August 5, 2020
By definition, collateral damage is referred to as “injury inflicted on something other than an intended target.” Now that the nine-year saga of Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett has officially concluded with the recent naming of former Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy as the new ‘sheriff’ in Jerry’s World, as of this writing, it
By definition, collateral damage is referred to as “injury inflicted on something other than an intended target.”
Now that the nine-year saga of Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett has officially concluded with the recent naming of former Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy as the new ‘sheriff’ in Jerry’s World, as of this writing, it is yet unclear if Williamsport native Gary Brown will be retained as the Cowboys running back coach or if he will be taking his impressive coaching resume to another football outpost.
Brown, the former Williamsport High School, Penn State, and NFL running back with the Houston Oilers and New York Giants, has served as the Cowboys running back coach since 2013. During that time, the Cowboys have had a 1,000-yard rusher every year. That list includes Ezekiel Elliott, DeMarco Murray, and Darren McFadden.
This coaching success comes after Brown had spent four seasons with the Cleveland Browns in the same capacity. During his Cleveland tenure, Brown coached Peyton Hillis to a 1,000-yard season and Trent Richardson to the best season of his career. After Brown left for the Cowboys, Hillis never had another 1,000-yard season, and Richardson was out of the NFL two years later.
In Dallas, Brown developed an excellent rapport with Elliott and rookie Tony Pollard and is credited with helping Elliott develop into one of the NFL’s top running backs.
In a recent article written by NFL insider John Williams, he stated, “So much of what goes into coaching a position is as much about chemistry and communications as it is about drills and technique. Brown has shown an innate ability to relate to his players and help them maximize their talents. Elliott and Pollard seem to get along with Brown, and if the new coaching regime is up for it, the Dallas Cowboys should bring Gary Brown back.”
The rapport Brown has developed with his players was best exemplified when he was caught on camera during the waning moments of the Cowboys final regular-season game against the Washington Redskins. With Elliott, Pollard and running back, Jamize Olawale gathered around him on the Cowboys bench, Brown explained to the trio that he didn’t know what the future holds, that his contract is up, and whatever happens they had made him a better person, and he’ll do anything that he can for them.
While many area fans follow Brown’s career and root for his success, retired Williamsport educator and coach Steve Dewar has maintained a close association with Brown over the years.
“When Gary was in sixth grade, I was his homeroom teacher at Curtin Middle School. I was also the head football coach there, and Gary came out for football and played for me during his seventh and eighth-grade years,” reflected Dewar. “I later moved to the high school and coached under Tim Montgomery during Gary’s senior year.
“During those years, I had developed a relationship with Joe Paterno and was involved with Gary in his recruiting process with Penn State. Several times Gary’s dad and I took Gary to Penn State to watch practices. Joe would let us in, and those visits went a long way in Gary’s decision to attend Penn State. Later, when Gary got married, he had me in his wedding as a groomsman.”
Brown’s coaching career had its beginnings at Williamsport High School, followed by assistant coaching stints at Lycoming College and Susquehanna. Moving up the coaching ladder, he went to Rutgers, then on to the Cleveland Browns before joining the Dallas Cowboys in 2013.
“He was excited beyond belief to get that shot to coach with the Cowboys and was looking forward to doing well,” Dewar recalls. “That success is well-documented; as at every stop in his coaching career he has had a running back gain more than 1,000 yards. I was never a Cowboys fan until Gary arrived there, but I sure am now. I’d like to see him get a Super Bowl ring.
“We’ve had some recent communication, and he hopes he will continue to have the opportunity to coach in Dallas, but he is sure he will be able to hook on with another team if that becomes the case. He has had several offers in the past to go elsewhere, including the Oakland Raiders and Houston Texans in 2018 and in years past Penn State had shown interest.
“I knew he was going to be something special. Watching him run the ball as a little kid in seventh grade, he wasn’t like anybody I’d ever seen. We used to laugh about the speed and moves that he had. Once he put his head back, breaking past the line of scrimmage, you knew no one was going to catch him.
“One day, I brought a Sports Illustrated article written about Herschel Walker to school with me. That article told me about what Herschel would do while watching TV. During the first commercial, he would go outside and run sprints up and down the street. During the second commercial, he would do pushups. During the third commercial, he’d do pull-ups. I showed that article to Gary, and he began doing the same thing.
“Not many people are aware of it, but that speed caught the attention of the Boston Red Sox, and they selected him in the baseball draft. He was an outstanding baseball player as a kid and was drafted despite never playing high school baseball.”
Gary and his wife, Kim, are involved in volunteer work in the Dallas community. He coaches youth softball and baseball and they have become well-established and enjoy living in Texas. Here’s hoping he does not become a collateral damage victim of the Cowboys coaching change.