Tom Landry: Gone But Not Forgotten

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Tom Landry passed away 16 years ago today.  February 12, 2000 was one of the most melancholy days in NFL history.

tom landry

A dark cloud descended upon Cowboys Nation and I was among millions who cracked a tear that day.

Tom Landry is not only recognized as one of the best head coaches of all time, but as a father figure and mentor to his players. He wasn’t very good at showing it, but but deep down, they knew he loved them.

tom landry 12 Tom Landry was the definition of the word “CLASS” both on and off the field. He was and is among the most respected coaches to ever roam the sidelines.

His 20 consecutive winning seasons is a record that remains unchallenged to this day. He is still remembered as “Gods’ Coach”.

“There’s no other way for me to work than the way I do, because our whole system demands tremendous concentration. Therefore if you’re really concentrating, you show very little emotion at all. I think as soon as a person breaks his concentration as an athlete he loses his effectiveness.” Tom Landry…

Hall Of Fame head coach Thomas Wade Landry was born on September 11, 1924, in Mission, Texas. He starred at quarterback for Mission High School, helping his team outscore the opposition by an accumulated score of 322-0 en route to a 12-0 record his senior year.

Tom Landry had a process that workedTom Landry joined the U.S. Army Air Corps after one semester at the University of Texas, and flew 30 B-17 bomber missions during World War II before earning his discharge in 1945 as a first lieutenant.

He primarily played defensive back and fullback after returning to UT, earning All-Southwest Conference honors as a junior and serving as team co-captain his senior year.

Cutting a distinct figure on the sidelines with his suits and trademark fedora, Landry was famed for his perpetually stoic expression. But hidden behind the even-keeled demeanor was that innovative mind, which altered the 4-3 formation in to the “Flex” to create the Cowboys’ feared “Doomsday Defense” and revived the shotgun offense in the NFL.

With defensive stars Bob Lilly, Harvey Martin and Randy White along with quarterback Roger Staubach executing Landry’s strategies, the Cowboys reached the big game a whopping five times in the 1970s, winning Super Bowls VI (1971) and XII (1977) by the combined score of 51-13.

tom landry 7The Cowboys continued to pile up wins in the 1980s behind star running back Tony Dorsett and defensive end Ed “Too Tall” Jones, but the new owner Jerry Jones, fired the iconic coach in February of 1989.

The man synonymous with Cowboys football finished with a regular-season coaching record of 250-162-6, his win total is behind only Don Shula and George Halas on the all-time list. Had Tom Landry not been fired and allowed to complete his rebuilding process, there isn’t a doubt in my mind he would be at the top of the list.

Landry was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1990 and the Cowboys’ Ring of Honor in 1993. After being diagnosed with acute Myelogenous leukemia in May 1999, the coaching legend passed away on February 12, 2000. (Tom Landry’s history facts are courtesy of

“Today, you have 100% of your life left.”

Tom Landry

Tom-LandryI grew up up in a house full of Steelers’ fans. My family was from Pennsylvania. I remember being a small child and seeing the man in the funny hat on the sidelines. There was something about him that drew me to the Dallas Cowboys.

Much to the dismay of my dad and older brothers, I became a fan for life. He was my hero growing up and I spent the best years of my life watching him roam the sidelines.

At this point all I have is memories of a once dominant and feared franchise. The saying back then was, “The road to the Super Bowl goes through Dallas”.

I can’t help but believe that the Cowboys 20 year drought is Karma coming back on Jerry Jones for firing Gods’ coach. I have seen people with the audacity to compare Jason Garrett to Tom Landry. Many refer to him as a great motivator. The best thing I can do at this point, because obviously I have no say in who the Coach of the Cowboys will be, is give him a little advise from the master himself.

“I don’t believe in team motivation. I believe in getting a team “prepared” so it knows it will have the necessary confidence when it steps on a field and will be prepared to play a good game. If you are prepared, you will be confident, and will do the job. “

“Perhaps the toughest call for a coach is weighing what is best for an individual against what is best for the team. Keeping a player on the roster just because I liked him personally, or even because of his great contributions to the team in the past, when I felt some one else could do more for the team would be a disservice to the team’s goals.”
“There’s a misconception about teamwork. Teamwork is the ability to have different thoughts about things; it’s the ability to argue and stand up and say loud and strong what you feel. But in the end, it’s also the ability to “adjust” to what is the best for the team.”
Tom Landry
Tom LandryI just wanted to take a moment and pay tribute to my childhood hero on the anniversary of his death. I hope you will do the same. After all, Tom Landry is why the Cowboys are called “Americas Team”.
Rest in peace Tom, you are gone, but will never be forgotten. You will always hold a special place in my heart. In closing, I will share one final quote from “Gods’ Coach”.
“To live a disciplined life, and to accept the result of that discipline as the will of God – that is the mark of a man.”
Authors Note: I would like to give a special thanks to Cas for taking the time to make the video at the top of this article. It wont surprise me one bit if you crack a tear while watching it, I know I did.
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Senior Editor of YDCFF

Al is the administrator and Senior Editor of YDCFF. He is a former football player and a die hard Dallas Cowboys fan since the early 70's. Al is a walking encyclopedia when it comes to the Cowboys and Tom Landry's biggest fan. He is our head analyst and a guru when it comes to evaluating players and writing up scouting reports. His favorite all time player is Roger Staubach and his current favorite player is Tony Romo. Al represented YDCFF in Oxnard for the Cowboys training camp as accredited media. He interviewed players to include: Brandon Carr, Cole Beasley, Travis Frederick, and Sterling Moore among others. He attended Jason Garrett's press conferences and had the opportunity to ask him some tough questions. He also interviewed Cowboys former OL coach/running game coordinator Hudson Hauck and shot a large percentage of the pictures in our gallery. Al's other interests include: hiking, camping, fishing, Martial Arts and NASCAR. It has been said that if the house was on fire during a Cowboys game, he would take the TV outside and fire up a generator to finish watching it.

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  • californy

    Rest in Peace Coach landry, A Man with a big Shadow in this team History

  • californy

    I visited that School where Tom Landry mural is at Mission Texas, how Ironic Mission and Landry name go hand in hand, in his crusades he did with Billy Graham, and his crusade he did with a very young NFL Franchise

    • Al

      He was a great man no doubt.

  • californy

    Well done Al, he will never be forgotten in the hearts of true Cowboy fans. That the problem with Cowboy fans they cant forget the excellence he left behind, and the standard he left in the star in deep in heart of Texas

    • Al

      Thanks Bro. He will always be my favorite Cowboy.

    • Al

      Thanks Bro. He will always be my favorite Cowboy.

  • Johnathan Nguyen

    Thanks Al & Cas for the article and video.

  • Lionone1

    A lot of tradition. A lot of good memories.

  • Lionone1

    A lot of tradition. A lot of good memories.

    • I wish I would have been around to be a part of that dynasty