The Cowboys are finding a little inspiration lately in New Jersey's own Bruce Springsteen, courtesy of coach Jason Garrett.
Garrett, an Abington native, has been using a story from Springsteen's Born to Run memoir to psych up players this season, Sports Illustrated reports. And it all revolves around the Boss' decision to leave the Jersey Shore.
"Have you read the Springsteen book?," Garret said to SI. "He's 20 years old, everybody at the Jersey Shore loves him, but he's unknown nationally, and a good friend and adviser tells him 'If you really want to be great, you've got to get off the Jersey Shore.' And so they pile everything in a couple vehicles and head west to this sort of open mic night in San Francisco."
That open mic night was a four-band show that would have one band move on to win a chance at a record contract. Springsteen and Steel Mill — Springsteen's pre-E Street Band band — went on third, and thought they had the gig in the bag. However, they lost to the night's final band.
"They got the gig," Springsteen writes in Born to Run. "We lost out. After the word came down, all the other guys were complaining we'd gotten ripped off. The guy running the joint didn't know what he was doing, blah, blah, blah."
Springsteen later realized that he was "good, very good, but maybe not quite as good or exceptional" as people had been telling him. As a result, the Boss vowed to use "every ounce of what was in me — my cunning, my musical skills, my showmanship, my intellect, my heart, my willingness — night after night, to push myself harder" and become better.
Garret's inspiration for the team comes following a 13-3 regular season for the Cowboys last year. Their postseason ended after a 31-34 loss to the Green Bay Packers. The lesson: Work harder.
"People talk about taking the next step like it's some big, obvious thing," Garrett said. "It's not. They next step happened just by working hard every day. I just told them, 'Born to Run is our story. This is us. The goal is not to be local heroes. Everything we did last year, we got to do it again this year, and we got to do it better.' "
Quarterback Dak Prescott, at least, understood what Garrett was getting at with the story, telling SI that the tale "hit home" with him.
"I felt him on that story," Prescott said. "Here's [Springsteen] and his band, local heroes, and they go west and it doesn't work for them. That's like us, winning the division and being local heroes in our city, in our division. That's not what we want. We want to be worldwide heroes. That's what we're playing for this year — something more than the division — and that story reminded us you've got to work for it every day."