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Tom Landry

The Innovator

The list of Landry's innovations is long and impressive and what he considered most important to his legacy. In Dallas, he created the umbrella-like flex defense, began using computers, reintroduced the shotgun formation and popularized situational substitutions. His command of the X's and O's of the game was matched only by his ability to keep a cool distance from his players. Landry's philosophy was that a coach shouldn't get too close to his players because then he would no longer be able to command the respect and authority needed to be successful. As a result, his players regarded him as something like a father figure and tried hard not to disappoint him. His need for control was so overwhelming that he refused to stay off the field one particular Monday night, when told there was a gunman in the stands that had threatened his life.


1924 Born September 11 in Mission, Texas
1941 Wins regional championship at Mission High School
1943 Inducted into the Army Air Corps
1946 Enrolls at University of Texas
1947 Starts at fullback for Sugar Bowl winning University of Texas team
1949 Rushes for 117 yards in Orange Bowl victory
1950 Joins the New York Giants
1954 Plays in NFL All-Star game
1954 Named player-coach for the New York Giants
1956 Hired as assistant coach for New York Giants
1960 Hired as first head coach of the Dallas Cowboys
1961 Gets first win as head coach of the Cowboys
1964 Signs ten-year contract extension with the Cowboys
1966 Wins first conference title
1966 Named NFL coach of the year
1967 Loses first championship game
1971 Loses in first Super Bowl appearance
1972 Wins first Super Bowl against Miami
1973 Wins 100th game
1976 Third Super Bowl appearance
1978 Wins second Super Bowl against Denver
1979 Loses fifth Super Bowl appearance to Pittsburgh
1980 Becomes third head coach to record 200 victories
1988 Fired by Jerry Jones
1990 Inducted into Pro Football Hall of Fame
1993 Becomes the eighth member of Cowboys Ring of Honor
2000 Dies at age 75 of leukemia

Additional topics

Famous Sports StarsFootballTom Landry Biography - The Early Years, The Innovator, Chronology, America's Team, Awards And Retirement