African American history museum Cowboys' latest lesson under Jason Garrett

FRISCO, Texas -- In a league that is as cutthroat as any, Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett tries to keep some perspective.

Many coaches live in a bubble where the outside world does not exist, working only on how to find a hole in an opponent's single-high coverage or finding a way to defend the run-pass option.

Garrett knows he could keep or lose his job based on how many games he wins, but he still tries to see the bigger picture.

"He likes to coach the man and the player, but he coaches the man first," defensive lineman Tyrone Crawford said. "He wants to see his guys grow not only on the field but off the field and just be knowledgeable about a lot of things."

That's why the day after the Cowboys play the Washington Redskins, the team will travel to the National Museum of African American History and Culture in the nation's capital.

The idea came from an offseason conversation between Garrett and DeMarcus Lawrence, who visited Washington with his family. Garrett then talked it over with members of the team's leadership council, who jumped at the idea.

Since becoming the Cowboys' coach full time in 2011, Garrett has used non-traditional methods to build team camaraderie or to show inspiration. In one training camp he had retired Navy Admiral Bill McRaven address the team. He had the Cowboys visit the Navy SEALs operation in Coronado, California.

For the team's London game in 2014, the Cowboys had a private dinner at the Tower of London, the historic castle on the River Thames. In 2015, the Cowboys visited the 9/11 Memorial two days before playing the New York Giants.

Last year, they were going to visit NASA before playing the Houston Texans in the preseason, but Hurricane Harvey forced the cancellation of the game. The Cowboys visited NASA before playing the Texans in the preseason this year.

With the Cowboys off next week, the schedule worked out to stay an extra day. Instead of returning on their charter flight after the game, they will return to their hotel in the D.C. area and spend the morning at the museum.

"I think we're all striving to be our best, and I think that's what you try to do as a coaching staff, always try to help everyone on your team be the best that they can be," Garrett said. "There's so many different inspirational examples that we have. Many of them in sports. Many of them in football. But so many outside of sports. So there are so many different ways you try to have this message be in front of your team on a daily basis. Again, this is a unique experience for us to be able to go up there."

Second-year cornerback Jourdan Lewis has not been to the museum, but he had been to the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, his hometown, three or four times.

Garrett, "always wants to get a message out of everything we do out of every aspect of life," Lewis said. "He wants everybody to know it's pretty much the same message. A lot of it is about fight. A lot of it is about just having courage to doing right and continuously doing right no matter the circumstances every time we go out and have team events like this. It's always something we can learn."

In the last few seasons, players across the NFL have played vocal parts in the fight against social injustice that has affected the African-American community. While the Cowboys did not -- and have not -- protested during the national anthem, players have raised concerns.

Having a better understanding of history can help bring about solutions.

"It's going to be monumental, because in this world that we live in, African-Americans and people in general, the entire society, we don't know our history of where [we] come from, being African-American and how everything took place," Jaylon Smith said. "Getting a chance to stay an extra day and learn about that is going to be tremendous. That's No. 1 thing that I want, is to learn, gain an understanding of the world and society we live in and what happened, what's my true history, where do I really come from, and I'm looking forward to learning even more."

Crawford grew up in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, but has the same curiosity.

"Just being able to learn the history in the United States, for me, is exciting, but more than what I know, I think it will be good for a lot of the guys in the locker room, all races, doesn't matter what you are," Crawford said. "To go and get that knowledge and see what the history is and what happened before us is important. Everybody should know it."

But Ezekiel Elliott was quick to point out the Cowboys are going on a work trip, not a field trip.

"We have business to take care of Sunday," Elliott said. "So we've got to handle that first, and then we'll have a good time at the museum."