As a baffling career comes to a close, the Cowboys quarterback still longs for greatness, but wonders if his best will ever be good enough.

HE IS IN HIS OFFICE, THE PAPERS stacked neatly on his desk, when his private line rings. It is his father, calling from Arizona, Danny White has always been the good son. He has only had an alcoholic drink one time in his life, and that was by mistake. He – has never smoked a cigarette. He lettered in four sports in high school. He took piano lessons, married his high school sweetheart, attended the Mormon church on Sundays. He listened respectfully when his father. Wilford “Whizzer” White, a former football star himself, told him what he had done wrong in the previous night’s game. The father had raised his son to become a star athlete and a clean-living boy, and that is what he got.

Now the talk is about the day’s activities. Their voices are gentle and musing, like two old friends sitting over coffee. “I have to leave early this afternoon,” Danny says. “There’s a golf appointment with clients.”

Over the speakerphone, his father teases him: “Every time I call, you’re playing golf with clients. Don’t you have any time for yourself?”

“I wish I did,” says Danny-and then, for a moment, his face is clouded with a familiar brooding look, one that lately has been seen in newspaper photographs as often as his crooked grin. “But”-he sighs-“there is always something left unfinished.”

THE GREAT HEROES OF THE DALLAS COW-boys, we know their stories by heart. We know the great failures, too. We know about the rookie phenoms, we know about those who choked. But what do we do with this other figure, one who seems to embody so many ideal qualities, who fits the mold of a great leader and displays more than the occasional flash of athletic brilliance? His presence is unavoidable. He holds half a dozen team passing records and at one time was ranked third among the top passers in the history of the National Football League. Earnest and loyal, a man who cares passionately about the fortunes of his football team, Danny White would appear perfect for the title we regularly bestow on our most famous athletes: the eternal All-American, our standard-bearer of success.

Oddly. Danny White’s life has never quite worked out that way. Though he has come so close to greatness so many times, there always has been something-not a flaw, exactly, and not merely fate-that has held him back. Today, at age thirty-six, when he should be relishing the final hurrahs, making an honored transition to the twilight seasons of his football career, an aura of incompleteness seems to surround him-a sense of something left unfinished.

Despite all that he has accomplished-and most quarterbacks would be overjoyed to lead a team to the conference championship game three times, as White has done with the Cowboys-it is not enough. He has been battered by freak injuries. His coach has benched him, determined to replace him with a younger quarterback. His teammates have publicly spoken against him, the press regularly criticizes him, and fans boo him lustily after every bad pass. Off the field, front-page newspaper stories, a federal probe, and lawsuits about his business practices have nearly devastated one of his companies and led to allegations that he defrauded investors. Who would believe that the decent, eager-to-please Danny White, with the soft smile and perpetually boyish face, would be accused of. . .cheating?

“All this adversity is like a test,” says White’s wife, Jo Lynn, a pretty, soft-spoken woman who values her family’s privacy and seldom gives interviews. “But who knows for what reason? All I know is that Danny is a good man, and he will rise above it.”

Although White has been one of the most heavily scrutinized of all the stars who have played for the Dallas Cowboys, he is still one of the least understood-introspective, sometimes distant, a very private man who rarely mentions subjects like his commitment 10 the Mormon faith. Nor do his teammates really know about White’s constant, deep-rooted drive to prove himself, to beat back the strange demons that come with being quarterback of one of the world’s most famous sports franchises.

And this year. White is like a man driven, ready to emerge from the looming shadow of his predecessor. Roger Staubach, whom fens will not let him forget. And he longs for the day when Tom Landry, the coach who has always kept his distance from him, who has jerked him out of games and replaced him with less experienced quarterbacks, will finally respect him like the good son that he knows he’s always been.

White also recognizes that this year might be his final chance. At the conclusion of last season, one of the most dismal in the Cowboys’ history, the players were required to return for the final time to the training facility to take their end-of-the-year physicals. It was a cold, 30-degree day. and a few of the players, as they were shaking hands and getting ready to leave, looked out at the barren practice field. There, running on the brown grass, was the lone figure of Danny White, already preparing for next year. It was a strangely poignant image: a man far removed from the cheerful goodbyes of his teammates-far removed, in a sense, from the team itself-pushing his aging body into giving him one more good year.

OUTSIDE IN THE HEAT, BEHIND THE rambling house in Allen, a half-hour north of Dallas, the vegetables are already starting to look wilted in Danny White’s garden. The oldest of his four children, Ryan, fifteen, is working in the yard. The youngest, four-year-old Reed, has just spilled grapefruit juice all over the kitchen, and White, in that strained voice common to all fathers who are trying not to lose their temper, orders him to clean it up. It is a normal family portrait, “and we do everything to keep it that way,” says Jo Lynn, sitting very properly in a chair, “because home is Danny’s only refuge. We don’t talk about football here, we don’t talk business, we just act as family.” There are football mementos in only one room of the house. Danny rarely tells Jo Lynn about the problems of his football career, and she tries not to ask. They do such a good job, in fact, of separating his private and public life that it occasionally confuses the youngest children. When Reed, watching the Cowboys play on television, sees his father dropping back for a pass, he will say. “There’s Danny White.” At home, when Danny walks through the door, he’ll say, “There’s Daddy.”

Some sportswriters have called White a ’”Pat Boone in cleats.” Indeed, an old-fashioned serenity like something out of the Ozzie and Harriet era envelops the White household. In the evenings, Danny sits at the piano and plays love ballads. When Jo Lynn gave him a synthesizer one Christmas, he wrote a song for her, entitled: “I’ll Still be Loving You.” Every day, he makes a point of playing with his children, and regardless of the business or football pressures, he takes his family on a summer vacation.

And then there is church, the little-known force in Danny White’s, life. White hardly wears his religion on his sleeve-“he doesn’t believe he has to go around and prove how spiritual he is,” his wife says-but the Mormon faith exerts an enormous force on him and his family. The Whites spend a couple of days a week doing church-related work, and Danny is in charge of the twelve- to fourteen-year-old boys at the 500-member Mormon church in McKinney. During the week he holds meetings with the boys and on Sundays teaches their church school lesson. except during the season. Often misunderstood-Mormons maintain conservative values, believe in the basic tenets of Christianity, and are today devoted to monogamy (though they were once prosecuted for the practice of polygamy)-their fundamental conviction is that marriage and the family are what’s important in this life and the next. “Exaltation is only possible as a family,” says White. “There are no individuals in the kingdom of heaven-only families, or family units.” The idea of family so dominates the Mormon imagination that Mormons usually marry young (Danny and Jo Lynn were both nineteen when they were married), and they often have several children.

White is fiercely protective of his family, sometimes in surprising ways. In a well-publicized 1984 criminal trial, he was charged with misdemeanor assault for punching a teenager in the face after White’s van nearly collided head-on with another car. White, who was driving three of his children, claimed he had tried to pass the teenager’s car on a rural road, but the youth accelerated and nearly prevented him from moving back to the right lane. White said he forced the teenager to stop, got out of the car, and threatened to kill the youth if he did anything to harm his family again. When the teenager laughed. White said, he hit him. The jury found White innocent.

Teammates have remarked before about White’s apparent aloofness. After practice, he goes straight home. He doesn’t go to parties with teammates; he doesn’t take his linemen out to dinner. Of course, he never goes with the guys to a bar. But what the players don’t understand is White’s stern, almost puritanical allegiance to the family. “Most other guys on the team have a lifestyle that is completely different than mine,” White says. “They live one kind of way and I would just as soon not even be influenced by that. I care about my teammates, and on the field I will fight to the death for them- but off the field I’d rather not have anything to do with them.”

“Everything we do revolves around what we believe,” says Jo Lynn. “If Danny went to the Super Bowl, I think it would be nice, for about a day. But who really cares? In this family, we know who we really are-and it has nothing to do with football.”

But there is the dilemma. It is the peculiar affliction of Danny White that his life must be tied up in the all-consuming institution known as the Dallas Cowboys. Talk though he will about the “temporal” things on earth versus those that are “everlasting,” he will in the next sentence reluctantly agree that it is impossible to avoid the reverberations of his football career. “One of my mistakes does not just become a local issue. It’s often a national issue and sometimes a worldwide issue,” he says. And because his personality has been shaped by sports-he spent his youth excelling in them, rarely losing, developing a competitiveness that has seeped into almost every part of his life-it should come as no surprise that much of his own identity as a person is inextricably tied up in how he views himself as a football player. Despite his down-to-earth manner, White lives with a complex inner turmoil over football. After a frustrating game, he refuses to come home until he has worked the anger out of his body. He will remain at the Cowboys’ practice facility lifting weights or running until late into the night, His is a strange sort of penance, a kind of physical self-flogging. For every mistake, a price must be paid. “’It’s the best thing for me,” he says, “to go beat my head against a tree and feel like I’ve punished myself and then say, ’Okay, it’s over, let’s go on to the next one.’” Even during peaceful evenings at home, he has trouble sleeping until he lies back in bed and visualizes throwing the perfect touchdown pass.

Likewise, there is a part of White that has trouble imagining the idea of retirement without one glorious championship season, a year in which he could finally display all his skills as a great quarterback, pay his penance for the past seasons that didn’t go right, and silence the critics forever. “The last time I was in Dallas,” says his lather, “I went to the practice field to watch him work out, and I thought, “Oh, man, he’s killing himself.’ I had never seen him work so hard. And as well as I know him, I kept thinking. ’Goodness, what’s driving him so hard?’”

Much of that drive, of course, comes straight from Wilford White, an All-Amer-ican at Arizona Slate who played two seasons as a running back with the Chicago Bears. The senior White proudly points out that “from the time Danny was a little teeny kid, 1 played kid games with him in a competitive way. I always tried to beat him. and I made it a challenge for him to beat me.” Danny was the oldest of five children (he has three sisters and a brother), and it was his mother who encouraged him to take piano lessons and go to church. “But there is no doubt,” says Danny, “that my competitiveness came from always wanting to make my father proud of me. Whether it was kicking a ball in the back yard or playing him in ping pong. I wanted to do something so he would tell me that ] did good.” The legacy remains: it has been nearly twenty years since White has lived with his parents, but when he throws an interception in a Cowboys game, he still wonders what his dad is thinking.

Stories are legion about competitive father-son relationships that went awry, but the athletic battling between Whizzer and Danny seems to have enhanced their affection for one another. In Danny’s office is a large photograph of his father from his playing days. In Whizzer’s back yard in Mesa, Arizona (where he runs a private police guard service), is a satellite dish that allows him to pick up all the Cowboys’ games. Whizzer never missed one-not one-of Danny’s sporting events until after he graduated from college. In high school, Danny starred in basketball, baseball, football, and track and field, and Whizzer was always there, sometimes driving six hours just to watch Danny compete in the broad jump. “It was not to pressure him,’” says Whizzer, whose temper, notorious in his playing days, has given way to a kind of feisty charm. “It was just for him to know that I was behind him, no matter what happened.” Danny says

his father “always made it clear to me. in his own way, that if I gave up sports, it wouldn’t matter to him.”

He pauses, resting his chin in his hand. “But if it wasn’t for what he taught me,” he says, “not just in sports but in discipline, then I wouldn’t be what I am today. He taught me that hard work, for all the right reasons, will make a person successful.”

That belief in the ultimate triumph of work is the cornerstone of White’s life today-and that is what has sometimes made life so difficult for him. There were occasions as a child when Danny had trouble accepting that things had gone wrong. “God, he hated to lose,” says Whizzer. “After one Little League game, when he tried to make a lunging catch fora fly ball and dropped it, I found him that night in his room, sobbing. He said, ’Dad, if I had caught that ball, we would have won that game.’”

When Danny enrolled at Arizona State, his dad’s alma mater, he figured he would play baseball {he was drafted by four major league teams) and perhaps punt for the football team. But the football coach, a notorious, boot camp-styled drillmaster named Frank Kush {who would later be fired for physically abusing a player), persuaded White to remain at quarterback. He did it in a way that Danny, used to his father’s encouragement and dedication, could never have expected. “Frank Kush tried to embarrass me in front of my teammates,” says White, “He told me I was a sorry, weak-armed, skinny quarterback who would never amount to anything.” When Danny threw a poor pass in practice during his sophomore year, Kush slapped him across the helmet, and roared that the team had made a mistake in recruiting him as a quarterback.

It was, he says now, a pivotal moment in his life. White had never been humiliated like that, and never had he been told he might fail. “I lived off of that one event for a long time, for years,” he says. “It became my inspiration-because I wanted more than anything else to show Kush that he was wrong about me. Since that day I have pushed myself as hard as I could. I really stayed in football because I had something to prove to someone.”

Again, White pauses. “I think, if anything. I’ve overdone it. I don’t know how to relax anymore until I’m certain I’ve proven to someone that I can do it.”

DANNY WHITE DID BECOME A GREAT quarterback. He learned to please Frank Kush, just as he had once learned to please his own father. He graduated with seven NCAA passing records and led Arizona State to thirty-two wins in thirty-six appearances. The Cowboys drafted him in 1974 as the man to succeed the legendary Staubach. After a two-year stint in the World Football League. White came to Dallas in 1976 to become what many considered the best backup quarterback in the NFL. During televised games, when a camera would focus on him on the sidelines, an announcer would inevitably say, “You know, White could be starting for most NFL teams”-a comment that made him cringe. But Danny was always the good son. He never forgot what his father had taught him, that with hard work, the best things in life would come. For four years. White played his role with patience-never pouting or demanding a trade.

In 1980. Staubach retired, and Cowboys president Tex Schramm billed the season as “the start of the Danny White decade.”’ The Cowboys were the most famous team in the country, and dozens of sportswriters came to interview Staubach’s new heir. What did it feel like to follow Staubach, the quarterback who could not lose? Could he lake the team to five Super Bowls like Staubach did? Staubach. Staubach, Staubach. White must have fell like the guy, as one writer put it, “who had married a widow who kept her late husband’s photograph by the side of her bed.”

But the players were also curious. As pleasant as he was, White was definitely hard to figure. They saw that White was much quieter in the locker room than Staubach. Nor did he talk as much in the huddle; usually, he would just call the play and bring the team to the line of scrimmage. White did make a great effort to act unflappable: that, for him, was what leadership was all about. But he was also bottling up a lot inside. And that was something the players never saw.

If White seemed somewhat mysterious to the players, he was going through enough troubles of his own trying to figure out his coach. Tom Landry’s stoic, inscrutable presence on the sideline has become a cherished part of sports folklore. Yet that image has held other meanings for Landry’s players. In his first four years on the team, White had only one conversation with Landry that touched on subjects other than technical parts of the game. Landry kept an arm’s length away from his quarterback; he never talked to him about desire or dedication. “If you wanted to look at your coach as a kind of father figure,” says White, “this was definitely not the place to do it.”

Landry believes that a head coach “simply can’t have close feelings toward his players. It’s unfortunate, but I can’t have a personal relationship with any of them because my decisions have to be based on what’s best for the team.” He says that he and Staubach, the player Landry has liked most in all his years of coaching, weren’t that close when Staubach was playing. “What I try to do with a quarterback,” Landry says, “is work with him enough on the details of the game plans and so on that he can become an extension of my mind.” But not necessarily an extension of his heart-which is what plagued Danny White.

If White made a good play, Landry rarely said anything. “Once in a while,” says White, “if I was walking past him right after the play, he would say, “Okay, way-to-go,’ real fast, as if it were all one word.” It wasn’t that White needed constant praise, but he did want to know where he stood. How did someone win Landry’s favor? “I always wondered what he was thinking.” White says. “Was he behind me? Did he think I should do this better or work on something else? Why was he holding back? When you play for someone for thirteen years and in all that time have only a half-dozen personal conversations with him, then that circulates through your head. I’ve had a lot of time to observe him. But I don’t think he knows me well, not nearly as well as I know him.”

In 1980, White’s first season as quarterback, he erased Staubach’s single-season touchdown passing record and took the Cowboys to the conference championship game (one game away from the Super Bowl). He looked like the NFL’s next great quarterback, especially when, the very next year. he led the Cowboys to the conference championship game again. Playing the San Francisco 49ers with fifty-one seconds remaining, behind by one point. White gambled and threw in a tight spot to Drew Pearson. The pass was perfect, but a desperate tackle prevented a touchdown. A play later, the ball was knocked from White’s hands under a heavy rush. The 49ers recovered.

It was a heartbreaking moment for the Cowboys. White was devastated for weeks, replaying the game over and over in his mind. But nobody realized how significant that game would become in the team’s, and thus White’s, history. If the pass to Pearson had gone for the winning touchdown, White would never have had to deal with the stigma that has since haunted him-that he could not get the Cowboys to the Super Bowl. “See. that game was really the downfall of Danny White as far as the image the players and fans have of him,” says Landry bluntly. “We might have been playing great teams and just barely losing, but once you miss on something like that, you get stuck with the label that you can’t win the big one.”

“Right or wrong,” says Drew Pearson, “Danny will always be looked upon as the guy who couldn’t get to that one game. It’s not fair, really, because he has done some things that a lot of good quarterbacks have never accomplished. But in Dallas, you have to play to a different standard, and that standard is the Super Bowl,”

The Cowboys have never come that close to the Super Bowl since the San Francisco game. White played wonderfully in 1982; as the National Football Conference’s second leading passer, he broke or tied eight club passing marks that year. The Cowboys found themselves in the 1982 championship game for the third straight year, this time against Washington. But White was knocked out of the game after a crushing tackle. In came a kid named Gary Hogeboom to throw two touchdown passes in a losing effort, and with him came a new quarterback controversy.

By 1984, Landry had turned to Hogeboom as his new savior, even though he had little experience and White was in the prime of his career. Critics of White claimed he was pressing, becoming by turns cautious and then suddenly reckless. Others said his arm just wasn’t strong enough. It was also increasingly apparent that his teammates didn’t really like him, especially since the 1982 season when the players went on strike and White called the walkout a farce. The players thought he was a pro-management traitor. In a Dallas Morning News poll, speaking anonymously, they favored Hogeboom for the starting job over White by a whopping 20-4 margin. Hogeboom’s brash, happy-go-lucky style appealed to them more than White’s controlled intensity. Once, when White was knocked down in practice and had trouble getting up, a few players reportedly looked at one another and smiled.

But most significantly. White had somehow lost the confidence of Landry. There was a telling scene during a 1983 game against Washington, when White-defied an order by Landry and ran a play rather than letting the clock expire on a fourth down. Landry was seen on the sideline, his face contorted in anger, shouting, ’’No! No, Danny! No!” Landry was the one who inadvertently had begun the controversy over White by suggesting the Cowboys were having trouble winning the big games with him as quarterback. He also hinted that White had lost confidence in himself and said that he had a “feel” the team could do better with a stronger leader whom the players liked.

White was stunned. He had done everything he could to win the respect of his coach. He also knew he had played well. Did Landry believe that the losses were solely White’s fault? Did he really put stock in the opinions of other players or sportswriters? Was Landry still longing for Staubach and those last-second victories’? There have been many occasions,” White says, “when Landry underestimated me, and I didn’t know why.”

For the first and only time, White allowed his emotions to spill out in front of his coach. In a private meeting, he told Landry that he was making a mistake, that benching him would only make things worse. In public, however, despite his humiliation, White never let loose with his feelings. Not once did he say anything to players who were publicly campaigning against him. If anything, he became even more introspective. White, always the Mormon, liked to consider his football team as a sort of family, where he was nourished and inspired. This, however, felt like a divorce. White told one sportswriter that be was not going to let the pressure of Landry’s decision ruin his life. He said he didn’t want to become one of those people whose job made him come home and yell at his kids.

It turned out that Landry was wrong. Hogeboom went clunk, turning into a major disappointment. With four games left in the 1984 season. Landry went back to White as the starter. The fickle players also seemed glad to have him back. They voted him a co-captain for the 1985 season, and White once again set out to prove himself. This seemed to be his fate-to swallow his emotions and to get on with his work. But the problem by then was that the supporting cast had gone to pieces. Among other problems, the defensive secondary had lost its potency, the offensive line was laughable, and the Cowboys started missing the play-offs. Still. White knew he was a winner.

Nothing, however, seemed to click. In 1986, he was the NFC’s top-rated quarterback with a 99.0 rating when he fractured his right wrist in a New York Giants game. His season was over. Five months after his injury, White still couldn’t throw a pass. By the time training camp came around for 1987. it was obvious White was not his old self. He couldn’t bend the wrist backward and wasn’t able to get the snap on his passes. There were times when some of his passes wouldn’t even go in the direction he aimed them. Dallas was 3-6 in the games he started and, toward the end of the 1987 season, Landry called him into his office to say he was being benched again, this time for another backup named Steve Pelluer.

Landry has said that as part of the team’s rebuilding program, the twentv-fjve-year-old Pelluer would go into the 1988 season as the starter. But now. when he talks about White, it is hard for him to keep up the unemotional shield. “He’s gone through a very tough time since 1982,” Landry says quietly. “I’m sure he’s suffered as much as any quarterback has. He’s truly been one of the players who has suffered on this learn. And I’m sure he’s much different because of it.”

But last winter, White began working on one more comeback. At the end of the 1987 season, he could lift thirty pounds with his weakened right arm; by May. he was at ninety pounds. During a Cowboys’ quarterback school held in May, White’s passes were snapping again. Even the coaches were genuinely shocked at how good he looked. When I went to see White at the practice field, the veteran stopped lifting weights long enough to say. in a way that was both inspiring and a little sad, ’”I really don’t think Landry has ever seen my potential.”

And right about then, as hope blossomed anew, Danny While got the biggest headline of his career.

Stripped across the top of the front page of The Dallas Morning News was a story claiming that White had left investors holding worthless stock certificates in a company in which he was a partner. The story said the company, Kowboy Krome Accessories, had become the target of liens by the Internal Revenue Service and lawsuits from creditors. Though records showed that White’s partner, who ran the company, had funneled money raised for a stock offering into other accounts (some to pay for groceries), and that a Las Vegas man hired to advise the company on going public in the stock market was under criminal indictment and barred from participating in the securities business, the headline in the first edition of the paper read: “Danny White is accused of fraud.” Of course, there would have never been a story written if White hadn’t been involved- but in Dallas, everything a Cowboys’ quarterback does ends up in the newspaper.

Some of the company’s investors charged that White and his partner, Paul Linford, refused to provide them with any accounting of where their money had gone. It was also discovered that White, violating team policy, had used Cowboys stationery to conduct personal business. He had written a creditor a letter, claiming he was just a stockholder in the company, though some reports identified him as chairman of the board.

White says the company’s investors went to the newspaper with a sensationalized story “just to blackmail me into paying them.” He says it’s no secret that Kowboy Krome has had a cash flow problem, but he adamantly insists that he’s not trying to take anyone’s money. Though White will not comment on the specific charges, which are now in litigation, he says he got involved in the company just to endorse the pickup truck product and was not involved in the day-to-day operations of the business. Says his attorney. Jay Madrid, “Danny appears to have suffered from the same condition that has affected professional athletes seemingly forever: poor investment decisions coupled with an all-too-trusting reliance upon ’consultants’ and ’business advisers,’ some of whom traded on Danny’s name and reputation.”

Though a federal investigation recently dropped its mail fraud investigation into Kowboy Krome, saying there was no evidence of wrongdoing, the uproar over his business has disheartened White. He says it will be hard for him to do business again in Dallas and that he’ll probably have to move after retirement. Ironically, even outside of football, circumstances have worked against his success. “If I had my druthers,” he says with a resigned air, “and had enough of an income built up so my family could live comfortably, I’d like to move far away, to a ranch somewhere, and live the simple life.”

Though he still looks very young, the disappointments and the pain have brought White a kind of wisdom that many men do not gain until later in their lives. It is a bittersweet kind of feeling, this from a man who nearly became a star. Nearly. White knew that there were a lot of what-ifs attached to his career as a football player. What if he had gone to a team that didn’t already have a Roger Staubach? What if Drew Pearson had made that touchdown against San Francisco? What if he had never broken his wrist? “But what if.” he says, “from the very first year I started as quarterback, we went to the Super Bowl? What if we had done it those two years after that? What might that have done to me as a person? I don’t know if I would be the family man and the husband I am today if I had experienced that kind of fame early and all the glamour that goes along with it. I might have gotten so caught up in my own success that I self-destructed. I’m not kidding. Would that success have put me on top of the mountain, or over a cliff?”

Then, he pauses-another of his famous, introspective pauses. “Of course, there are times when I ask, ’Why me. Lord?’ I’d love to have had the opportunity to see what I would have done with the success. But I’ve also learned to come out with an appreciation for the challenge. In the last four or five years, I’ve constantly had something to adjust to, something to overcome. And in a way, I’m grateful for that. Those kinds of hurdles, maybe they’ve diminished the results of my career as a quarterback. But maybe they’ve also made me a stronger person. And in the long run, isn’t that all that matters? Not the winning-but the character you develop. And if that’s what you really care about, then adversity is essential.”

He says all this one day in the outdoor weight room of the Cowboys training facility. It is late in the afternoon and most of the other players have gone home. Tom Landry walks by, not speaking, on his way from the practice field to his office. He does not even glance toward White. But White does not notice him either. He is grabbing at a large dumbbell, to work once more on his frail right wrist. His face taut with concentration, the veins in his arm stabbing out from his skin, White pushes the weight-slowly, slowly-straight above his shoulder. Just as slowly, he lowers it. He feels his wrist, grimaces. “That’s a lot of weight,” he says. And then he grabs the dumbbell to lift it above his shoulder again. There is always something left unfinished.


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