HC / HC
Class of 1990
Straight winning season
Super Bowl titles
"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 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.
Full Name: Thomas Wade Landry
Birthdate: Sept. 11, 1924
Birthplace: Mission, Texas
Died: Feb. 12, 2000 at age of 75
High School: Mission (Texas)
Elected to Pro Football Hall of Fame: January 27, 1990
Enshrined into Pro Football Hall of Fame: August 4, 1990
Presenter: Roger Staubach, Hall of Fame Cowboys quarterback
Other Members of Class of 1990: Junious "Buck" Buchanan, Bob Griese, Franco Harris, Ted Hendricks, Jack Lambert, Bob St. Clair
Tom Landry Enshrinement Speech 1990
Presenter: Roger Staubach
Mr. Commissioner, Mr. Mayor, Hall of Fame Committee, Hall of Famers, old and new, and most importantly you the fans that paved our parade route this morning and cheer in our stadiums, it is a pleasure to be here today and I want to update you on the score, the Browns are winning 7-3. We have been up here a little, long, I think our busts have gone out of style over there, but it has been worth every minute of it and it is a privilege for me to, be here on this important occasion on behalf of Tom Landry. On the stage some memories were brought back that weren’t all the best, Ray Nitschke knocked me out my first year as a rookie for the Dallas Cowboys and then there is Ham and Greene and Swann and Lambert and Blount and Harris, that is enough to ruin your day right there, I will tell you that, right there. I have had the feeling since I have been sitting here, there is probably a hand full of you out there that are not Cowboys fans. That's the communist out there in the group. But it's a little over 20 years ago a dream came true when I stepped onto the field at the Cowboys training camp as a rookie. Five years ago, another dream came true when I stood before you as .an inductee to the great Hall of Fame. My dreams and those of my teammates were fulfilled because of the efforts of one very special individual. Today I have an honor of representing the players of the Dallas Cowboys in presenting Coach Tom Landry into the NFL's Hall of Fame. You know Tom Landry was able to put a football team on the field that won for 20 years in a row. It is an unprecedented feat of the NFL and one that I don't ever believe will be duplicated again. You don't do that by accident, you do that because you know the game and you are a fierce competitor. But I don't want to get into statistics in the brief few minutes I have, I really wanted to try to capture the spirit of Tom Landry.
He is hard to classify, not someone who fits the typical profile of a football coach. In fact, some might suggest that he is a man of contrast, someone who's public image may not always reflect his true character. For example, how can a nice, soft spoken man known for his fashionable tailoring on the sidelines, become a legend in one of the most physical, aggressive, action-oriented sports in the world. To watch his demeanor on and off the field you would never expect that he was at home in the world of split-second execution and violent collusions. Folks might say that he is conservative, that he doesn't change much, and I guess there is some truth to that. He is a man of unwavering beliefs; his faith and his family have always been his foundation for his life. I guess if you know his wife, Alicia, it is a marriage that was made in heaven, if you want to get corny about marriage. These values give him the confidence and inner strength to be one of the most persevering dedicated men I have ever known. The self-discipline he developed along the way helped him to maintain balance through his life through good and bad times. He wanted to win as much as any human being or any coach or any player that ever played the game. But he could always put victory and defeat in their proper perspective. But while he might be conservative in some areas, let's all recognize that he was one of the innovators and premier architects of the evolution of modern football. Cowboy teams became famous because of their ability to innovate. Tom was always on the leading edge, he perfected multiple offensive sets, motion and shifting before the snap. The flex defense forced opposing teams to radically change their offenses when we played.
And the shot gun is now used practically by every team in the league. In the minds of knowledgeable football fans, Coach Tom Landry is recognized as visionary who was always one step ahead of the crowd. People might point out that he is quiet, serious, reflective almost shy. But that perspective alone doesn't capture the real Tom Landry. The one who has never turned down an autograph, the one who is extremely generous with his time and talent, the one who gives freely to community activities and civic causes and has been the backbone in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. He is one of the most approachable folks you would ever want to meet. Every now and then you will hear a player who remarks one time when he smiled, but you got to admit that any guy who does American Express commercials or pops out of a suitcase singing country and western songs can't be taking life too seriously.
Those of you who have watched Coach Landry on the sidelines all those years might have formed an impression of him as impassive or unemotional. The media played that up quite a bit. But the truth is that despite, the cool outward appearance, Tom Landry is one of the most sensitive, caring individuals God ever put on this earth. And a sport as tough as football can be and Tom Landry is as tough as he can be. Tom's sincere desire to win was right on top of his list but he also cared for the individual and· for the team and that is what made him a winner. He agonized over tough decisions. You will find that former players believe that Coach Landry made them better individuals the high tribute we can offer is genuine respect. Tom Landry certainly earned that from the athletes he influenced in his three decades of coaching. He has also earned it off the field in a lifetime of giving and caring. So, there are the contrasts I have tried to put together, the spiritual side of Tom Landry, conservative yet innovative, quite but generous in giving, he might appear somewhat distant, but he is always warm, compassionate and understanding. Which is the real Tom Landry, they all are. He is actually what he appears to be. There is no pretense in his style, no false images to maintain. His genuine nature and good will make him stand out as the individual unique in his time. Tom Landry defines the word class.
In one of my weaker moments I called Tom the man in the funny hat. Speaking for football hands across the country, we miss that image on Sunday afternoons. But we are thankful for the memories he has given us, for the grace and dignity he brought to our sport. He has touched all of us in a way a few could. I am proud to consider him a friend and on behalf of all the players who have had the wonderful fortune to be coached by the very best, it is my pleasure to introduce, Coach Tom Landry.
Thank you very much, thank you. Well I should have worn my hat today so you would recognize me, if I had that hat on, I am sure. But you know they are taking bets if I will show any emotion today or not and the odds are very heavy that I won't. But you know, they told me this was going to be a great experience for me, and I have been here to introduce several players into the Hall of Fame. I thought would handle it very well, but when you are on this side of it, it is a little bit different. It really is a thrill for me to be here, but if I don’t show emotion, it is all on the inside though.
It makes it a little bit special to have Roger Staubach to present me for introduction into the Hall of Fame. I could talk for hours about Roger Staubach because there is probably no pier or player who could win the game in the last minutes or bring a team from behind as Roger did. When we show our highlight films, you know you can see what Roger has done for the Dallas Cowboys and as he said, he is representing the playe.rs that I have coached through the years. There are some of them here, I see Bob Breunig out here, I see Ed Jones, Drew Pearson is here, also Robert Newhouse, Jethro Pugh all those great guys who played for the Cowboys and I know I missed some here and I am just delighted to have them here and all the other fans today as well.
I would like to recognize the enshrinees for the tremendous job they did in coming. They are all the players; I am the coach and it makes a little difference from a coaching standpoint to go into the NFL. I wish I would have been a good enough player to go in as a player, that would have been super. But I wasn't and I run glad to be here though as a coach. But I had the pleasure of coaching against all these guys that are playing against them. I coached four Super Bowls against four of them in that time and I understand now why Pittsburgh beat us twice; there whole team is going to be in the Hall of Fame before this thing is over with, but they were a great team and they deserve it. Can you believe it, I played against Bob St. Clair, that ages us both as a player? When they told me, he ate raw meat for his pre-game meal, I didn't even want to get close to him because I didn't know of course, the selection be here and I surely would like committee for inviting me to be - 23 - committee, if they hadn’t selected me I wouldn’t to thank the Hall of Fame and their selection a part of this great, great Hall of Fame.
You know it is hard to say all the people who have helped you and name all of them who have helped you be successful. Of course, the ones that are most important to me are my family. You know when you are in the coaching business it is very tough, your family is so important to you and I want to introduce my family very quickly, my ·wife, Alicia, the beautiful gal right here who is standing, my son, Tom Jr., my oldest daughter Kitty, come on stand up Kitty and show them how pretty you are gal, Lisa my other daughter, tremendous and my sister is here too Ruthie, you stand up too. There are two people that are not here today that would have loved to have been here. They both passed away in. the 70s. My dad had a chance to see us win our last Super Bowl against Denver. He was a great sports fan and he enjoyed it so very much. You know it is amazing how we get older we understand how important the family is. And I run just glad that God gave me such a great mother and dad. It made a lot of difference in my life.
You know others who made a great impact in my life, I think probably the one man that made a great difference was my coach in junior high and high school. I only had one coach when I was in junior high and high school. He graduated from San Marcus and came to Mission, TX to coach me when I was a junior in high school and then when I moved up to become a senior in high school, he moved up to become head coach. But he taught me a lot about football, he taught me fundamentals, he taught me values, he taught me to pay a price to win. He contributed greatly to my success and I am talking about all the coaches, all the junior highs and senior high coaches of America, what an impact they have on the youth of America where we need the impact today.
It was a pleasure for me really to play for only two teams. I went up with the New York Yankees in the All-American Conference and I was there for only one year before the fold in the NFL and then I went to the NY Giants, the Mara family which really meant a lot to me personally. The Mara family, the Halas family, the Rooney family, they are the heart of the NFL and. to be a part of that team and see the type of family atmosphere that they had. We didn’t always agree, but we were like most families we could always make up. But I had a chance to play, I had a chance to be a player-coach for them and a defensive coach. And those were the days when I first came up, we didn't have television, can you believe it. The television was not there in 1949, 1 50 in the early 50s. But when I coached all the way through the 50s with the NY Giants, I had Vince Lombardi and myself. Vince handled the offense; I handled the defense for the Giants until we went to Green Bay. We had some great teams with the Mara family.
Wellington and Ann Mara are probably here today. They are one of my best friends today. But as I moved into the Dallas Cowboys, I had the real pleasure to have an owner by the name of the late Clint Murchinson, who was very special in our whole setup. Clint Murchinson, who took over the Cowboys in 1960, who was with us until he passed away recently, never once criticized me or second guessed me in the whole time that I was with the Dallas Cowboys. I remember after the 1963 team, we had only won five games after four years in any one season and everybody called a press conference and I remember we went to the press conference and I remember everyone saying ''well, Landry is gone.'' Well Clint walked in and said, I am going to give him a 10-year contract, with one year left.'' Well, that's loyalty, that's support and I believe Clint Murchinson was the one person that enabled us to go 20 years with winning seasons because he took the pressure off of me, he took the pressure off of Tex Schramm and took the pressure off the organization and that is what makes great teams and great dynasties. And it was really a pleasure for me to have that. Others in the Dallas Cowboys, Tex Schramm was a tremendous organizer. He contributed greatly to the NFL in so many ways and he was largely responsible for our organization. Gil Brandt, he was the other one who came in at the same time. His scouting·, he helped us tremendously in the early years as we developed as a football team. And that, was very important to me personally.
Of course, the last year has been a very, very interesting one for me. I got fired and I got into the Hall of Fame this year all in one year. So, you coaches remember that there is always good things at the end of the rainbow if you stick at i.t. But I think my coaching staff is another good reason we were successful. I had coaches that coached with me for 29 years; Jerry Tubs did. I had Jim Myers and Ermil Allen who coached with me for almost 25 years. Gene Stallings for 14 years, Dan Reeves came up as a player and went, all the way through and coached for me and went on to Denver. Of course, Mike Ditka did the same thing he came to us as a player and now he is coaching the Bears. And all these guys were with me more than fifteen years as coaches and that is what made the Cowboys what they were.
I had a great time in the NFL, I think after the 40 years I have been in it I spanned the whole almost the whole gauntlet from failure to, success in the NFL. Because when we were back in the 50 1 s in there with no television Bob St. Clair was over paid, I don ·rt think I made $5500 in those days to play the game. But that was what it was all about. I saw the merger, the marriage of television and the NFL and that was the greatest marriage that ever happened in the late 50s because from that came the American Football League and expanded what we have today in the NFL and I just hope that the NFL will continue to build on a great foundation that has been created by the Rooney's and Halas' and all the rest and all these Hall of Fame guys because they made it possible and I think the game will continue on.
It is a great pleasure for me to come into the Hall of Fame, never thought I would make it; but I am sure glad to be here. Thank you very much.