The NFL regular season is finally here … almost. The Dallas Cowboys are currently preparing for their division rival, the New York Giants. When taking a look back on what connects these two teams, one of the first things that comes to mind is the late great Tom Landry.
The name Tom Landry will forever be embedded in the minds of NFL fans everywhere. Landry is well known as being the creator of the 4-3 and the “flex” defenses that would lead to the Cowboys “Doomsday defense” along with the resurrection of the shotgun offense.
In 1960, the man now known for always wearing a fedora, Thomas Wade “Tom” Landry, was named head coach of the Dallas Cowboys and that would continue until 1988.
As head coach of the Cowboys, Landry amassed a 270-178-6 record, to go along with 20 career playoff victories, 2 Super Bowl titles, and 13 Divisional titles. The most remarkable achievement, however, was 20 consecutive winning seasons. Not to mention, the name America’s Team was born.
What’s hardly ever talked about is the fact that Landry began his professional football career in 1949 as a punter of the New York Yankees in the AAFC. A year later when the AAFC folded, Landry was selected by the New York Giants in a dispersal draft.
His playing career is highlighted with 82 games played, 32 interceptions 3 of which he returned for touchdowns, and 10 fumble recoveries. He was named All-Pro in 1954. His coaching career began that same year as he was named defensive coordinator and that continued through the 1955 season as a player-assistant coach.
From 1956 to 1959, Landry and offensive coordinator, Vince Lombardi, would lead the Giants to three appearances in the NFC championship game in four years–winning one and losing two. Then in 1960, as I mentioned above, the history of the Dallas Cowboys was born.
Landry’s coaching success led to his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1990, and the Cowboys “Ring of Honor” in 1993. He passed away after a battle with leukemia on February 12, 2000. The Cowboys unveiled a bronze statue of Landry in 2001 that stood in front of Texas Stadium and now resides at AT&T Stadium.
While the hatred Cowboys fans have for their division rivals will always remain, we should all take a moment and thank the Giants for allowing Tom Landry to roam the sidelines for the Dallas Cowboys.