Tom Landry was selected as the head coach when the Dallas Cowboys started their first National Football League season in 1960. He remained in that capacity for 29 seasons until new ownership opted for new field leadership after the 1988 campaign.
At the time of his retirement, only George Halas, who coached the Chicago Bears for 40 years, surpassed his 29-year tenure with one club. It took Landry a few years to develop his young club into contender status but, once he did, the Cowboys enjoyed exceptional success for more than two decades.
The Cowboys under Landry had their first winning season and their first NFL Eastern Conference championship in 1966. They didn't fall below .500 again until 1986. During that period, Landry's teams had 20 straight winning seasons, 13 divisional championship, five NFC titles and victories in Super Bowls VI and XII. The Cowboys also played in Super Bowls V, X and XIII.
His regular season career record is 250-162-6 and his record counting playoffs is 270-178-6. Only Halas and Don Shula top his 270 career wins. Landry gained a reputation as a great technical innovator, as well as an inspirational leader. He introduced the "flex defense" and "multiple offense" in the 1960s. In the 1970s, he restructured the "shotgun" or "spread" offense and, in the 1980s, he embraced and helped develop the "situation substitution" concept of handling his player talent.
Landry was an excellent player in the pros. He was a defensive back, punter and kick returner with the 1949 New York Yankees in the All-America Football Conference and with the New York Giants in the NFL between 1950 and 1955. He recorded 32 career interceptions and had a 40.9-yard punting average. He served the Giants as a player-coach in 1954 and 1955 before becoming a full-time defensive coach from 1956 to 1959.