Remembering Tom Landry... RIP Coach...

Discussion in 'History Zone' started by Deb, Feb 10, 2007.

  1. Deb

    Deb Zoner

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    Remembering Tom Landry...RIP

    (September 11, 1924 – February 12, 2000)

    By DEB

    For the past few months, I always had it in my head...write something for Landry....Write something for Landry. My memories of him are sketchy at best...I know what everyone seems to know about him. He was a quiet leader. He loved his wife and his family. And he was a deeply religious man.

    But his life came alive for me through the words of some of the people that played for him....Danny White, Bill Bates, Chad Hennings, Jim Jeffcoat, and Rayfield Wright. The love they had for that man. They recall him as a coach, but more than that, they recall him as a man they love, miss, and respect.

    And now, here it is Feb.12th, 7 years since he was called home, and I don't know how to do it all justice. I've researched and I've read. So, I'll provide a little background on him and then turn it over to some special friends of mine, who have their own special memories of a great man.

    Tom Landry was born on September 11, 1924. He grew up in Mission Texas, was an A-student, president of his class, and a member of the National Honor Society. And he excelled at football. He served in the army in WWII, was discharged and enrolled in the University of Texas.

    During his junior year, he made the All-Southwestern Conference second team, and in his senior year, he served as co-captain. In 1948, Texas won the Sugar Bowl, and in 1949 his team won the Orange Bowl. In 1949, Landry graduated with a degree in business administration from the University of Texas and later earned a degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Houston.

    Tom Landry began his professional career as a defensive back for the old New York Football Yankees, and then the Giants. With the Giants, he became their defensive coordinator, while Vince Lombardi was the offensive coordinator.

    He left New York in 1960 to take a job as head coach of the Dallas Cowboys expansion team. A Dallas group headed by owner Clint Murchison Jr. and General manager Tex Schramm recruited Landry for the job, signing him on for 5 years at $34,000 a season. Landry ran an insurance business in Dallas during the off-season and the offer gave him a chance to move closer to home.

    In his first season as head coach, Landry failed to win a single game. The team had a 0-11-1 record. Landry offset the team's lack of talent with an innovative offensive strategy that called for multiple formations based on the strengths and weaknesses of his own players and those of his opponents. He used 10 or 11 formations a game, with up to six variations of each formation. This was several times as much offensive diveristy as the NFL average. The Landry defense, on the other hand, was a one-formation machine.

    Despite a losing record, Landry had won the confidence of Cowboys owner Clint Murchison. In 1964, Murchison signed Landry for an additional 10 years as head coach of the Cowboys. This marked an unprecedented show of support for a coach with only a 13-38-3 record. By 1965, the team won as many games as they lost. And in 1966, the Cowboys made the playoffs for the first time after posting a 10-3-1 season. That year, Landry was named the NFL's Coach of the Year. In 1967 the team won the Eastern Division title.

    After the 1970 season, the Cowboys advanced to the Super Bowl for the first time, but lost the championship game to the Baltimore Colts. The Cowboys eventually made it to the Super Bowl five times, winning in 1972 and 1978 and losing in 1971, 1976, and 1979. Throughout his career, Landry earned a record of 250-162-6 in the regular season and 20-16 in the playoffs. He coached for 29 years with the Cowboys. 29 years with one team. Even now, it's difficult for me to imagine one man doing so much, so well, for so long.

    And now, I am going to call this part......A LITTLE HELP FROM MY FRIENDS

    I've been very fortunate and blessed in the world of message boards, to have made some incredible friends, who taught me it's as simple as being a fan of a team.....along with the love for what we do to support them daily.

    First out of the gate is Hostile; zone admin, historian, teacher, and writer in his own right........

    Also out of the zone is Trickblue; mod, friend, ace reporter, with a childhood story that sums up the man Landry was, much better than I ever could

    It's funny, but with each story someone shared with me, the more I thought....Tom Landry was all about a team, and here we all are.. in some different boards and walks of life...coming together for one cause. I talked to OCF over at and he shared some thoughts with me, and who incidentally has become a mentor to me in a lot of ways.......

    Okay, almost halfway through these, thanks for you patience, but I really thought the best tribute and way to have him live on, is though these stories...
    so next up, is Azriel/Reg....mod, friend, confidante at DCFU

    This next story is a little different, but amusing....LOL but a dcfu member and for his dad,

    And before I get to two of his ex-players, this next story is one of the first up close personal stories I had ever heard about Mr. Landry about a year ago. So from DCFU's own COACH CBartel

    And now the letter that started this whole project for me, a very spiritual man in his own right....HOF'er, MR. RAYFIELD WRIGHT

    And last but not I just received a few minutes ago, probably the most down-to-earth player I've had the pleasure to talk Juke will agree....Mr. Danny White

    Mr. Tom Landry was a pioneer, a visionary and an inspiration to a nation.
    He died of leukemia on Feb. 12, 2000. Bob Lily and Drew Pearson were just two of many that spoke at his funeral. Pearson said Landry was putting together the GFL, God's Football League, and had a lineup that included Derrick Thomas and Walter Payton. His fedora was buried with him, but his memory will live on forever. Maybe just for today, all of us everywhere, can light a candle, and remember the man.


    A lot of love went into this article, and wanted to thank again....Hostile, Trickblue, OCF, Juke for the amazing graphic, and Az, scout, and CB.

    "When you want to win a game, you have to teach. When you lose a game, you have to learn."

    "Leadership is getting someone to do what they don't want to do in order to achieve what they want to achieve."

    "Football is an incredible game. Sometimes it's so incredible, it's unbelievable."


  2. Regar the Bold

    Regar the Bold New Member

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    He was a great man.
  3. TheConnection

    TheConnection New Member

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    Well done
  4. Coakleys Dad

    Coakleys Dad The Re-Birth has begun.

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    that was awesome........
  5. Hostile

    Hostile The Duke

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    Thanks Deb. I appreciated getting asked. Rayfield Wright has once again moved me more than I can say.
  6. Deb

    Deb Zoner

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    Hostile, you guys doing it with me and for me touched me just as much, so thank you and thanks to Juke for such a poignant graphic
  7. the kid 05

    the kid 05 Individuals play the game, but teams beat the odds

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    good job deb and other contributors
  8. smarta5150

    smarta5150 Mr. Wright

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    I wish I was old enough to really appreciate what Tom Landry did for the NFL and espicially what he did with the Cowboys.

    Great post Deb and all those that inspired you and contribulted to the post, thank you.
  9. DallasCowboysRule!

    DallasCowboysRule! Well-Known Member

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    Rest In Peace Coach Landry. Gone but never forgotten.

    THUMPER Papa

    9,522 Messages
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    Very well done, thanks for putting this together Deb. It brought back so many memories for me.
  11. Juke99

    Juke99 ...Abbey someone

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    As always Deb, great job.

    I've been off the wall busy lately, so I wasn't able to write anything lengthy about Coach Landry.

    For me, his memory is summed up with a simple feeling I would have whenever I saw him on the sidelines; quiet confidence.

    Coach Landry would calmly walk the sidelines, there was no screaming, yelling, cursing...all of that was exchanged for a very cool demeanor which made me feel like the game was under his control.

    In the early years as each season ended with a heartbreaking play off loss, it was impossible to not feel his pain as you saw him interviewed after each loss.

    AND that made the joy of beating the Dolphins in the SB that much greater.

    Oh...and...his offense was SO much fun to watch.

    RIP Coach Landry. Danny White is correct, you're truly not gone.
  12. Deb

    Deb Zoner

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    Thanks Everyone, and I'd be honored if anyone else has any memories if they'd post them today and tomorrow.......
  13. Cbz40

    Cbz40 The Grand Poobah

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    I wish I could add more Deb.......What a beautiful Thread.

    To this day whenever I watch a Cowboy's Game I can't get the image out of my mind. When the Cowboy's sideline is panned I still see the Man in the suit, tie, the Hat, the clipboard, standing there with that never changing look of confidence and determination.

    I remember only one time Coach Landry showing a momment of emotion.....The dropped TD pass from Roger to Jackie Smith. :)
  14. jackrussell

    jackrussell Last of the Duke Street Kings

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    Nice read and nice job everyone.

    Prompted me to tear into the spare bedroom again to find my old VHS tape full of Cowboy and Landry footage I took in the 80's.

    Friday, on the radio came Bob Costas, and they played an interview he did with Landry. Hearing Landry's voice...alot like hearing a tape of your Dad 10 years after his passing....chilling.

    In his voice, in his could find comfort and confidence....that if anyone could do it...Tom Landry could.
  15. MissionCoach

    MissionCoach Active Member

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    Very fitting tribute, thanks Deb...they don't make them like Coach Landry anymore.

    As far as I am concerned, Coach Landry is, and will always be, the face of the Dallas Cowboys.

    He represented the best of the Cowboys...and is the reason we still to this day expect, even demand such greatness from this team.

    I was very fortunate to have had the opportunity to meet Coach Landry in person at an autograph signing event several years before his passing. Obviously he was no longer the Coach of the Cowboys...Jimmy Johnson, JJ, and the Trippletts were at the top of their game...

    There were many big name Football Stars at the event, including Troy Aikman, Joe Montana, Dan Marino, just to name a few....but almost every fan there was clammoring to talk to Coach Landry...he was a Living Legend...

    When I finally got the opportunity to meet him, and shake his hand, I was nearly childhood idol was larger than life to me. Surprisingly he was almost embarrassed by all the fuss over him... he actually seemed taken aback by all the attention and adoration...typical Landry style.

    My last memory of him that day, was seeing him standing next to Troy...who was helping him into a limo...right before he got inside, I could not resist the urge for one last interaction and without hesitation yelled out "Coach Landry...thanks for everything" he looked over at me, smiled and waved...and drove off....

    So in memory of his days as a High School Football hero in Mission, Texas, as a WW2 Hero, as an overachieving Football Player both in College and in the Pros, as an up and comming Defensive Coordinator, an innovator in the NFL, a respected and loved Head Coach, as a loving family man, a man of faith and conviction, and last but not least, as the legendary face of our beloved Dallas Cowboys...Thank you again Coach Landry, thank you for everything...
  16. big dog cowboy

    big dog cowboy THE BIG DOG Staff Member

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    Awesome job.

    RIP coach.
  17. SkinsandTerps

    SkinsandTerps Redskins Forever

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    Regardless of my team, Landry is one of the most respected coaches to ever grace the sidelines for me.

    His demeanor and determination seperated him from many coaches during his era, and even now.

    Great piece. Thanks to everyone involved.

  18. Big Country

    Big Country Rolling Thunder

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    Can't put how awesome that read was into words Deb...

    Super job!
  19. 5Stars

    5Stars Here comes the Sun...

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    Wow...just wow!!

    :starspin :starspin :starspin :starspin :starspin
  20. TheProphet

    TheProphet Benched

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    Tom Landry was the greatest coach the Dallas Cowboys ever had. Period. He was a class act, respected by fans and foes of the Dallas Cowboys.

    Nice work by all.

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