A Forgotten Founder of the Dallas Cowboys

Question #6 of yesterday’s trivia post asked who was the original co-owner of the Dallas Cowboys, along with Clint Murchison, Jr. Except for some fans who have been with the team for a long time and those who enjoy history and trivia, few probably would remember the name Bedford Wynne off the top of their heads.

Most accounts of the efforts to bring an NFL team to Dallas treated Murchison and Wynne as partners, and Wynne clearly served as the spokesman of this partnership. Wynne was the one who announced the hiring of Tex Schramm as general manager of the proposed team in November 1959. Wynne was also present at the meeting in Miami in 1960 when NFL owners officially approved the Dallas club as a franchise.

The picture above shows Wynne and Murchison, left, along with Redskins owner George Preston Marshall and Tex Schramm. Marshall had been one of the more vocal opponents of expansion, especially to the Southwest.

Wynne’s story is actually quite fascinating. Born July 14, 1923, he attended high school in Longview before graduating from the New Mexico Military Institute. He spent three and a half years in the Army and then attended the University of Texas. After graduating from UT, he moved on to SMU Law School and was later admitted to practice in Texas.

He came from a prominent family in East Texas. His father was a lawyer and active on the political scene. His brother was a successful real estate developer, and his uncle was a famous oilman. Wynne joined his family’s law firm and became a partner.

His interests were diverse. He was a director with such companies and organizations as Reliance Life Insurance Company, the Sweetwater Development Center, Junior Achievement, Children’s Development Center, the Cotton Bowl Athletic Association, University of Texas Ex-Students Association, Highland Park United Methodist Church, and the nonprofit Garrett Foundation. He was also co-owner of Wynne & Black, an oil business, as well as the Garrett-Wynne Angus Ranch of Longmont, Colorado.

In 1959, he earned media attention when he bought a share of a famed Black Angus bull named Prince 105, which reportedly carried a hefty price tag of $230,000. During the same year, Wynne was actively involved with an effort to bring top professional bowlers to the Dallas area. At that time, he was an official with Great Southwest Lanes of Arlington.

When Dallas millionaire Lamar Hunt and others announced the formation of the American Football League during the summer of 1959, the NFL moved quickly to announce that the older league would expand as early as 1961. The first two cities named as possible locations were Dallas and Houston, and Murchison and Wynne appeared in the newspapers constantly during negotiations. These negotiations ultimately succeeded, and Dallas received a franchise a year earlier than originally announced.

Because Wynne appeared in the newspaper so often, many thought he was an equal co-owner. However, Clint Murchsion owned 95% of the team with his brother John, while Wynne was only a minority owner along with Toddie Lee Wynne and W.R. “Fritz” Hawn. Bedford Wynne held the position of director and secretary of the Cowboys.

In 1967, Wynne decided to sell his shares in the Cowboys to help organize the expansion New Orleans Saints. He also left his law practice in 1967 and began to focus on other business ventures.

After 1967, Wynne’s name surfaced less and less. In one interesting story, he won a camper at the Byron Nelson Classic in Fort Worth when he hit a tee shot closer to the mark than opponent Mickey Mantle.

He was chairman of a group that operated and managed Teen America Associates, which produced a teen beauty pageant for several years, and he later became president of Family Recovery Inc., a family counseling service.

Wynne died at the age of 65 on December 30, 1989 of a heart attack. He was survived by three daughters and a son, along with six grandchildren.

Interestingly, although Bedford Wynne has no entry on Wikipedia, his name shows up on Wikipedia under the entries for both the Dallas Cowboys and Clint Murchison, Jr. There is also an entry for Bedford’s brother, Angus, who founded Six Flags over Texas.