Tom Landry of the Dallas Cowboys (Part 1)

I got to meet Tom Landry twice and I read his book back in the late 1970’s. What a classy guy. Landry Jones is one of the top quarterbacks in the country today and he was raised in a Christian home and he was named after Tom Landry!!! It is such a small world after all.

Today I am starting a series on Tom Landry. If you take time to read the details of his life you will be amazed.

Tom Landry

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Tom Landry

Landry in 1997

Head Coach
Cornerback No. 49
Personal information
Date of birth: September 11, 1924
Place of birth: Mission, Texas
Date of death: February 12, 2000 (aged 75)
Place of death: Dallas, Texas
Career information
College: Texas (football)
NFL Draft: 1947 / Round: 20 / Pick: 184
Debuted in 1949 for the New York Yankees (AAFC)
Last played in 1955 for the New York Giants
Career history
 As player:
 As coach:
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Win-Loss Record 250-162-6 regular season, 270-178-6 all games
Winning % .607 regular season, .603 all games
Games 418 regular season, 454 total
Stats at
Coaching stats at
Pro Football Hall of Fame

Thomas Wade “Tom” Landry (September 11, 1924 – February 12, 2000) was an American football player and coach. He is ranked as one of the greatest and most innovative coaches in National Football League (NFL) history, creating many new formations and methods. He invented the now popular 4–3 defense, and the “flex defense” system made famous by the “Doomsday Defense” squads he created during his 29 year tenure with the Dallas Cowboys.

Landry won two Super Bowl titles (VI, XII), 5 NFC titles, 13 Divisional titles, and compiled a 270-178-6 record, the 3rd most wins of all time for an NFL coach. His 20 career playoff victories are the most of any coach in NFL history. He was named the NFL Coach of the Year in 1966 and the NFC Coach of the Year in 1975. His most impressive professional accomplishment is his 20 consecutive winning seasons (1966–1985), an NFL record that remains unbroken and unchallenged. Also from 1965-1981 the Cowboys won 17 consecutive regular season openers, also an NFL record that remains unbroken and unchallenged. Under Landry the Cowboys had a record of 41-11 in regular season games in the month of Dec. from 1965–1982, and 24-4 from 1970-1979 to either clinch a playoff spot or build momentum to go deep on many championship runs, from 1966-1982 Dallas played in 12 NFL/NFC Championship games, a span of 17 years. More impressive is the Cowboys appearance in 10 NFC Championship games in the 13 year span from 1970-1982. Leading the Cowboys to 3 Super Bowl appearances in four years between 1975–1978,and 5 in 9 years between 1970–1978, and being on T.V. more than any other NFL Franchise is what spawned the title of “America’s Team”, a title Landry did not appreciate because he felt it would bring on extra motivation from the rest of the league to compete with the ‘Boys. The Cowboys also won 10+ games 17 out of 20 years from 1966-1985 including playoff wins, for a overall record of 226-95-2 in that span of 20 consecutive winning seasons.


Personal life

Born in Mission, Texas, to Ray (an auto mechanic and volunteer fireman) and Ruth Landry, Tom was the second of four children (Robert, Tommy, Ruthie and Jack).[1] Landry’s father had suffered from rheumatism, and relocated to the warmer climate of Texas. Ray Landry himself was an athlete, making his mark locally as a pitcher and football player [2] Tom played quarterback (primary passer and runner, and also punter) for Mission High School, where he lead his team to a 12-0 record his senior season.[1] The Mission High School Football Stadium is named Tom Landry Stadium and is home to the Mission Eagles. He attended the University of Texas in Austin as an industrial engineering major. Landry had given thought to enrolling at SMU, but he knew that he would be away from his friends and family. The main driving force in keeping him from enrolling at SMU was the notion that it would be too long a travel for his parents to see him play college football.[2]

He interrupted his education after a semester to serve in the United States Army Air Corps during World War II. Tom was inspired to join the armed forces in honor of his brother, Robert. Robert Landry had enlisted in the Army Air Corps after the attack on Pearl Harbor. While ferrying a B-17 over to England, Robert Landry’s plane had gone down over the North Atlantic, close to Iceland. It was several weeks before the Army would be able to officially declare Robert Landry dead.[2] Tom Landry began his basic training at Sheppard Field in Witchita Falls, and his pre-flight training would begin at Kelly Field, located near San Antonio, Texas. Tom’s first experience as a bomber was a tough one. A few minutes after take off, Landry realized that the pilot seemed to be working furiously, and it was then that Landry had realized that the plane’s engine had died. Despite this experience, Landry was committed to flying. At the age of nineteen, Landry was transferred to Sioux City, Iowa, where he trained as a co-pilot for flying a B-17 had begun. In 1944, Landry got his orders, and from Sioux City he went to Liverpool, England, where he was assigned to the Eighth Air Force, 493rd Squadron in Ipswich.[2] Landry earned his wings and a commission as a Second Lieutenant at Lubbock Army Air Field, and was assigned to the 493d Bombardment Group at RAF Debach, England, as a B-17 Flying Fortress bomber co-pilot in the 860th Bombardment Squadron. From November 1944 to April 1945,[citation needed] he completed a combat tour of 30 missions, and survived a crash landing in Belgium after his bomber ran out of fuel.[3]

He returned to his studies at UT in the fall of 1946.[3] On the football team, he played fullback and defensive back on the Texas Longhorns’ bowl game winners on New Year’s Day of 1948 and 1949. At UT, he was a member of the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity (Omega Chi chapter). He received his bachelor’s degree from UT in 1949. In 1952, he earned a Master’s degree in Industrial engineering from the University of Houston.[4]

Landry was known as a quiet, religious man, unfazed by the hype that surrounded the Cowboys, then being billed as America’s Team. A Methodist Sunday school teacher, he would sometimes arrive for home games only moments before a noon kickoff after teaching an adult Bible study class in the morning. He was in a comic book promoting Christianity in 1973. Landry was active in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Landry was a friend of the Reverend Billy Graham, speaking at many of his crusades. In fact, one of the suit coats Landry commonly wore was a gift from Graham.

Landry married the former Alicia Wiggs on January 28, 1949. The Landrys were married for 51 years, prior to his death and had three children; a son, Tom, Jr. and daughters Kitty and Lisa (d. 1995).[5]

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