The Dallas Cowboys and their History of Brilliant Football Minds

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Our Dallas Cowboys have enjoyed an extremely high level of success over the course of our history. That statement is simply not debatable unless you are a Cowboys hater, to which there are many of those unfortunately. Now some decades have been more dominant than others (1970’s and 1990’s), but when speaking of the Dallas Cowboys history, success is usually prominent in the conversation.

The foundation of that success stems from the presence of brilliant football minds.

Sep 23, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys fans Joann Hannis takes a picture of her husband Terry Hannis in front of the Tom Landry statue prior to the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Cowboys Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

From 1954-1958 the New York Giants had Tom Landry running their defense and Vince Lombardi running their offense. In the early 1950’s the Los Angeles Rams’ front office consisted of both Tex Schramm and Gil Brandt. From 1960 up until 1989 our Dallas Cowboys had three of the four names mentioned above on the payroll.

The other name, Vince Lombardi, left the Giants after the 1958 season to become the head coach of the Green Bay Packers. Lombardi’s Packers were arguably our fiercest rival during the 1960’s. What’s the point you ask? I think most will agree that Tex Schramm, Tom Landry and Gil Brandt were ALL brilliant football minds, and we have been at our absolute best when we have been under the leadership of these brilliant minds.

It was the brilliant “business mind” of Clint Murchison Jr., the original majority owner of the Dallas Cowboys, which put those football minds on the payroll, signed the checks, and let them do their thing. Current Cowboys owner Jerry Jones can certainly take a page out of Murchison’s playbook in this regard.

With Tom Landry, professional football was a chess match. The thinking was if they do this, then we will do this. He was always three steps ahead of the competition. The man invented the 4-3 defense while many teams were still using the popular 5-2 alignment, and when many teams started to adopt his invention, he devised an offensive system to beat it…that’s brilliance.

 Some say he never showed emotion, to which Landry offered, “If you’re calling plays on the sideline, you don’t have time to be emotional. Anytime you show emotion, your concentration or train of thought is broken.”

When you have a man that dedicated to his craft, and that calculated in his approach to the game, you are destined for greatness. Landry’s Cowboys beat other teams more often than not because Landry’s Cowboys were that much more prepared than their competition. Landry did not just build teams, he built men.

And it was the job of Gil Brandt (yes, the former baby photographer) to find those men. Brandt served as Vice President of player personnel for the first 29 years of Dallas Cowboys football. He found the talent, and Landry developed the talent. Gil Brandt had a network of informants that spread across the entire country in regards to scouting the nation’s top college prospects.

It was simply incredible how many players (both NFL veterans and college prospects) offered their services to the Cowboys based upon the persistent efforts of Brandt. Tex Schramm surely was thankful for his services.

“The first time I called him, I gave him the names of three or four free-agent players we were interested in.”  “In two days, he had all of them signed,” Schramm said of Brandt. “He was amazing. It was obvious he was a person who put no limit on the time or energy necessary to get the job done.” Brandt currently serves as a senior consultant at

And then there was the inventor, Tex Schramm. His list of inventions and contributions to the game of football as well as the Dallas Cowboys are endless. Schramm let Landry make all the on-field decisions, but it was Schramm that gave Landry the necessary tools to do so.

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