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Dallas History

Greatest Dallasites: Tom Landry (No. 1)

The legendary Dallas Cowboys coach made America's Team America's Team.
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When I got here, in 1969, Coach Landry was taking an expansion team and making it a winning team. He had a master’s degree in industrial engineering, and that really shaped his approach to coaching. People don’t realize how innovative he was as a football coach. That’s why he won. The Dallas Cowboys became America’s Team because of Coach Landry.

I used to get frustrated because he would get the plays in late sometimes. Once I called timeout and went over to Coach Landry on the sidelines. He was standing there thinking, with his arms crossed, wearing that hat and tie. He was looking up at the sky, through the hole in the Texas Stadium roof. I said, “I always wondered where you got the plays from.”

Coach Landry was never emotional. If he got angry, it would be very unusual. But you could tell by the way he looked at you if he was mad. When we won the Super Bowl in 1971, he was ecstatic, because it took all of the pressure off. Someone asked Walt Garrison once, “Hey, Walt, have you ever seen Coach Landry smile?” Walt said, “No. But I’ve only been here nine years.” There’s a picture of Coach Landry getting carried by Walt and another player after we won, and Coach Landry has a big smile on his face.

There are a few people who’ve had a profound impact on my life, and he was one of them. I learned a lot about football, and the way he lived his life reinforced my beliefs about the way I wanted to live mine. We didn’t interact much as friends until he retired. We’d play golf and hang out. He had a mad love affair with his wife, Alicia.

One of the great privileges of my life was when Coach Landry asked me to introduce him at his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, in 1990. He was a great coach and a great human being. It’s a good combination to have.

Back to 100 Greatest Dallasites

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