To define Tom Landry is as impossible a task as one can come up with. He was a brilliant, innovator who redefined the game of football through the evolution of the shotgun offense and the 4-3 flex defense. A man in a funny hat whose silhouette has become an iconic symbol of Dallas Cowboys legend and NFL greatness.
Recently, ESPN has done a countdown of the greatest coaches of all-time and much to my surprise Tom Landry wasn’t even ranked in the top 5. I tried to make an effort to objectively look at the situation but couldn’t believe it when Joe Gibbs was ranked No. 2 on the list.
A World War II veteran, Tom Landry wasn’t just a football coach. Landry represented the American ideals of his generation. A character man of strong faith and patriotism, Landry was “God’s Coach” for “America’s Team”.
Landry coached the Cowboys for 29 seasons before being let go by new owner Jerry Jones. In his career Landry led the Cowboys to a record of 250-162-6 and a post-season record of 20-16 with two Super Bowl Victories. Out of his 29 seasons, Landry had 20 straight winning seasons that led to 13 divisional champions and five NFC titles.
Behind all the numbers and all the records, Landry was as good of a coach as there ever was. As a coach, he churned out Hall-of-Fame players like a mill developing players like Bob Lilly, Mel Renfro, Randy White and Roger Staubach as well as many others.
But more importantly, he single-handedly produced a dominant, winning franchise despite it’s growing spotlight and revolutionary marketing.
When you think about the all-time greatest coaches you need to take a realistic look at the coaches true impact to a franchise over his entire tenure. The Cowboys have become an iconic franchise thanks to the coaching of Tom Landry. Over 29 years, Landry made the Cowboys relevant and that’s something that no other coach can say.
You can marvel at the legend of Vince Lombardi and you can admire the brilliance of Bill Belichick. There are successful coaches that can’t be ignored. However, among all the admiration and NFL worshiping, you CAN’T ignore the man whose fedora symbolized all he was.
Tom Landry isn’t the 6th best coach of all-time, he’s better than that. He may not be the “greatest” of all time either… But one thing is for sure, he’s the greatest coach ever around here, and that’s all that matters.