Posted on Wed, Nov. 10, 2004
I M A G E S
SPECIAL TO THE STAR-TELEGRAM
THEN & NOW | LARRY COLE
Cole built more than an NFL career in D/FW area
By Carlos Mendez
Star-Telegram Staff Writer
When he wants to, Larry Cole can still see the evidence of his work -- and not necessarily on old NFL clips.
It's in the homes his company has built in Northeast Tarrant County, where the former Cowboys defensive tackle has made his post-football living since retiring in 1980.
"There are certain days you wish you weren't in it, but I've enjoyed this line of work," he said. "You plan it and build it and see it through, and you can still drive by and see it 23 years later."
Cole thinks he has developed more than 1,000 lots in Bedford, Colleyville, Southlake and Keller. He ought to know -- he has been a Bedford resident since 1971.
Cole has been a Texan since the Cowboys drafted him in the 16th round in 1968. Following his final college season at Hawaii, after transferring from the Air Force Academy, Cole didn't think pro football was in his future.
"Gil Brandt's computer found me," he said with a laugh, remembering the former Cowboys scouting director who earned a reputation for advanced scouting techniques.
"I thought, 'Nobody's going to notice you out here,' " Cole said. "That saying that, 'Every day is a holiday and every night is a Saturday night in Honolulu?' That's true. I thought, 'I've got to get out of here, or I won't get anything done.' "
Cole joined the Cowboys during their early rise in the NFL. His career in Dallas began with Don Meredith at quarterback and ended with Danny White, and he didn't have a losing season in between. His career included parts of the "old days" and the NFL's modern era.
"Now is the money time, but as far as the history of the NFL, I think I played in the most exciting period," he said. "I got a taste of the old, the Super Bowls in the middle of my career, and when the new stadiums and TV contracts were growing. Football became kind of a happening thing."
Cole got his start in real-estate development thanks to the extra cash that comes from playing in a Super Bowl. He rounded up $15,000 and put it to work.
"A friend of a friend was building houses, and he convinced me to invest my earnings from that first Super Bowl," he said. "I invested that. Then I invested myself."
Cole discovered he had a knack for building. He figures it was in his blood.
"I worked at a lumber yard when I was a kid," he said. "I grew up around construction. That makes a difference, for you to feel comfortable. At the time, a lot of people considered it dirty work. But to me, I love making stuff and producing things. That's what I've always liked to do."
IN THE KNOW
THE LARRY COLE FILE
Years with the Cowboys: 1968-80
Acquired: Drafted 16th round, 1968
Hometown: Granite Falls, Minn.
College: Air Force Academy, University of Hawaii
Favorite Cowboys moment: "Winning the first Super Bowl. That was my fourth year. We broke our butts to finally get over the top."
Carlos Mendez, (817) 390-7407 firstname.lastname@example.org