Training Camp, 1960: Meredith and Perkins Fail the “Landry Mile”

Tom Landry, former head coach of the Dallas Co...

Tom Landry’s first requirement of his players in 1960 was to have them run a mile in six minutes or less.

The Dallas Cowboys opened their first training camp in Forest Grove, Oregon in July 1960. The team was a mix of cast-off veterans from other teams along with free-agent rookies that other teams did not want.

The two prized rookies on the roster were quarterback Don Meredith and running back Don Perkins. When the team arrived at camp, players had to run a mile in six minutes. He gave linemen an extra 30 seconds.

Total number of players who met this goal: zero.

Of course, keep in mind this was long before the days where players had year-round training programs.

Here is part of an article published on July 12, 1960.

Cowboys Greeted by Landry’s Mile

by Charles Burton
News Staff Writer

The six minute standard survived the stubborn assault of the Dallas Cowboys Monday in the Tom Landry Mile.

The race which will become a fixture in the annual training camps of the National Football League club was run and sometimes staggered over a grass course laid out around the Pacific University gridiron. Landry had warned his athletes by mail that he would expect backs and ends to gallop the distance in a flat six minutes with linemen granted an additional thirty seconds for a satisfactory rating. None met the goal.

* * *

Don Meredith, the stork-legged first-year quarterback from Southern Methodist, finished with a weak spurt and a strong smile at 7:43….Don Perkins, the highly regarded halfback from the University of New Mexico, a reputed 10 second man in the 100-yard dash, was the only player who was given no time. He collapsed just after starting the fifth lap of the six lap endurance grind but after resting for a few minutes he regained his wind and walked and trotted to the finish.

“If they had been in better condition I believe they could have made it in six minutes,” commented Coach Landry.

* * *

Some trivia:

* Landry’s reason for a six-minute mile? Roger Bannister had broken the four-minute mark in 1954, and track runners were still aiming to break that mark by 1960. Landry said he just added two minutes.

* The player with the fastest time (6:19) was Greg Altenhofen, a rookie end from the University of Oregon. He did not make the team and never played in the NFL.

* The article notes the center Bob Griffin “would have to be timed with a calendar” because he was so slow. Griffin also did not make the team in 1960 after having played five years with the Rams during the mid-1960s. He did, however, play in five games with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1961.

* Three players failed to show up for camp and were cut. The players were Norman Denny (North Texas State), Larry Deuitt (Rice), and Leon Manley (West Texas State).

 

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