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What Happens to NFL Dynasties

DynastyAs we all know very well, the Cowboys are in the middle of an era the follows its dynasty of the 1990s. And as we all know, the time that has passed since the team’s last title in 1995 seems like an eternity.

The bad news: the time that elapses between dynasties and subsequent championships by the same franchise is usually longer than what we’ve experienced so far.

I’m making these points with the thought that the Patriots could begin to see a decline, given how difficult it would seem to be for New England to rebound for another title run next year (Gary Myers of the the New York Daily News predicts Dallas vs. Jacksonville in 2008). The Patriots certainly have enough talent in place to contend for a few more years, but when the magic is finally gone (i.e., Tom Brady is gone), history suggests that the Patriots could have a wait as long as the one for the Cowboys.

Here is a history of dynasties (and mini-dynasties), with a focus on what happened after the championship years. We’ll start with the 1950s, given that the league had fewer than 12 teams for most of the years prior to that.

1950s Cleveland Browns

The Title Years: After winning all four championships of the AAFC, Cleveland dominated much of the 1950s, winning titles in 1950, 1954, and 1955.

What Ended Their Dynasty? Quarterback Otto Graham retired after the 1955 championship, and with Tommy O’Connell as quarterback, Cleveland fell to 5-7 in 1956. The Browns returned to the title game in 1957, losing 59-14 to the Detroit Lions.

Rebuilding Years: The Browns picked up running back Jim Brown in 1957 and had a streak of 13 winning seasons after the losing effort in 1956. Led by Frank Ryan and coach Blanton Collier, Cleveland won another title in 1964. After going 7-7 in 1970 in their first year in the new AFC, the Browns had playoff seasons in 1971 and 1972.

What Happened to the Franchise? Although the Browns have had a number of playoff appearances during the Super Bowl era, Cleveland has never made the Super Bowl.

1950s Detroit Lions

The Title Years: Like the Browns, the Lions won three titles in the 1950s, including championships in 1952, 1953, and 1957.

What Ended Their Dynasty? The Lions rather infamously traded Bobby Layne to Pittsburgh during the 1958 season, prompting Layne to predict that Detroit would “not win for 50 years.”

Rebuilding Years: Detroit had four winning seasons in the decade that followed the 1957 titles, but the Lions had no playoff appearances. They did not return to the playoffs until 1970.

What Happened to the Franchise? In 1991, Detroit won its first playoff game since 1957, beating the pre-dynasty Cowboys. Running back Barry Sanders led Detroit to five playoff appearances in the 1990s, but the 1991 win over Dallas was the team’s only playoff victory in the decade.

1960s Green Bay Packers

The Title Years: The modern championships for Green Bay began before the Super Bowl era, as the Packers won in 1961, 1962, and 1965. The berths in Super Bowls I and II resulted from Green Bay’s NFL titles in 1966 and 1967.

What Ended Their Dynasty? Age and the retirement of Vince Lombardi finally ended the Packers’ run following the 1967 season.

Rebuilding Years: Green Bay had a short resurgence in the early 1970s with the emergence of running back John Brockington. However, between 1967 and 1993, Green Bay had only two playoff appearances.

What Happened to the Franchise? The emergence of quarterback Brett Favre revitalized the Packer franchise in the 1990s, and Favre led the Packers to a title in 1996. However, after losing Super Bowl XXXII to Denver in 1997, the Packers have not returned to the Super Bowl.

1970s Dallas Cowboys

The Title Years: Dallas won titles in 1971 and 1977 and appeared in three other Super Bowls during the decade.

What Ended Their Dynasty? Heartbreaking playoff losses in 1979 through 1983 kept the Cowboys from reaching the Super Bowl again during the Tom Landry era.

Rebuilding Years: The Cowboys declined rapidly during the mid- to late-1980s, reaching a nadir in 1988 and 1989 when the franchise managed a total of four wins in two seasons.

What Happened to the Franchise? See 1990s Cowboys.

1970s Miami Dolphins

The Title Years: The Dolphins rebounded from their loss to the Cowboys in Super Bowl VI by winning Super Bowls VII and VIII. Miami’s undefeated season in 1972 remains unprecedented.

What Ended Their Dynasty? After the Dolphins lost to the Oakland Raiders in the 1974 playoffs, running backs Larry Czonka and Jim Kiick, along with receiver Paul Warfield, left Miami for the World Football League.

Rebuilding Years: Although the Dolphins were competitive for the rest of the 1970s, they never seriously contended for another Super Bowl title.

What Happened to the Franchise? The Dolphins won the AFC twice in the 1980s but lost in Super Bowls XVII (vs. Washington) and XIX (vs. San Francisco). Since 1984, Miami has made the playoffs ten times and has appeared in two AFC Championships games, but the Dolphins have not returned to the Super Bowl.

1970s Pittsburgh Steelers

The Title Years: The Steelers emerged as the dominant franchise in the 1970s by winning titles in 1974, 1975, 1978, and 1979.

What Ended Their Dynasty? Pittsburgh was built from the ground up, and when the star players (Terry Bradshaw, Franco Harris, Lynn Swann, John Stallworth, Jack Lambert, Jack Ham, Joe Greene, Mel Blount, and so forth) started to decline, so did the franchise.

Rebuilding Years: Led by such quarterbacks as Mark Malone, Cliff Stoudt, and Bubby Brister, Pittsburgh made the playoffs four times in the 1980s, including an appearance in the AFC title game in 1984.

What Happened to the Franchise? With the hiring of head coach Bill Cowher in 1992, the Steelers became one of the more consistent winners in the NFL during the 1990s and 2000s. However, the franchise suffered a number of notable playoff losses, including a 27-17 defeat to the Dallas Cowboys in 1995. The misery ended for Steeler fans in 2005 when Pittsburgh won Super Bowl XL.

1980s Washington Redskins

The Title Years: Washington won two Super Bowls in the 1980s (1982 and 1987) and a third in 1991. The Redskins, though, lost in the biggest Super Bowl upset of the 1980s when they were beaten by the L.A. Raiders in 1983.

What Ended Their Dynasty? Joe Gibbs retired (for the first time) after the 1992 season, ending a remarkable run. Gibbs won Super Bowls win three different starting quarterbacks (Joe Theisman, Doug Williams, and Mark Rypien) and also reached the NFC title game with a fourth quarterback (Jay Schroeder). After Gibbs retired, Washington’s good fortune with quarterbacks ended.

Rebuilding Years: With six head coaches in fifteen seasons, including a return of Joe Gibbs, the Redskins have struggled to win consistently. Between 1993 and 2004, Washington had one playoff appearance.

What Happened to the Franchise? The Redskins managed to make the playoffs in 2007, but Gibbs retired for a second time.

1980s San Francisco 49ers

The Title Years: San Francisco won four Super Bowl titles in the 1980s and added a fifth title in 1994.

What Ended Their Dynasty? The 49ers were contenders more often than not between 1981 and 1998. However, when quarterback Steve Young was forced to retire due to an injury suffered in 1999, the team’s fortunes sank.

Rebuilding Years: The 49ers rebounded in 2001 and 2002 to make the playoffs, but they were not serious Super Bowl contenders.

What Happened to the Franchise? Between 1999 and 2007, San Francisco has had seven losing seasons. It is still in a state of rebuilding.

1990s Dallas Cowboys

The Title Years: The Cowboys became the first franchise to win three Super Bowls in four seasons in 1992, 1993, and 1995.

What Ended Their Dynasty? Dallas was the first casualty of the system of free agency in the NFL, along with the new salary cap. In addition, architect Jimmy Johnson left (resigned/fired, depending) after the 1993 season, and replacement Barry Switzer could not maintain status quo after the team’s win in Super Bowl XXX.

Rebuilding Years: The Cowboys remained competitive for the rest of the 1990s, but then fell on hard times once the team’s stars finally retired.

What Happened to the Franchise? Dallas has had four losing seasons in the 2000s, but the Cowboys have reached the playoffs in three of the past five years. The 2007 squad recorded 13 wins, tying a franchise best.

1990s Denver Broncos

The Title Years: Denver stunned the Packers in Super Bowl XXXII and then won a second straight title by beating Atlanta in Super Bowl XXXIII.

What Ended Their Dynasty? The retirement of quarterback John Elway ended the Broncos’ title runs for the most part.

Rebuilding Years: Denver has had some very good teams since 1998, including a 13-3 campaign in 2005. However, the success of the late 1990s has eluded the Broncos.

What Happened to the Franchise? Denver slumped to 9-7 in 2006 and 7-9 in 2007.

2000s New England Patriots

The Title Years: The Patriots equaled the Cowboys’ performance by winning three titles in four seasons, in 2001, 2003, and 2004.

What Might End Their Dynasty? New England has been outstanding in its ability to restock through the draft and through free agency. Some of their top players have left (Lawyer Milloy, Deon Branch), but they have been replaced very well. Nevertheless, the team’s defense features an aging linebacker corps, but these leaders appear to be the heart and soul of this team. Losing one or more of these players (Tedy Bruschi, Mike Vrabel) to retirement could be damaging. The most significant loss, of course, would be Brady, but he is still young enough that it could be some time before his decline would end New England’s title hopes.

Giants Wreck More Than Cowboy Dreams

Cowboy DreamsThis is the first time in the history of the Cowboys that Dallas swept the eventual Super Bowl champions. And as painful as it may be to say, champions the Giants are (my version of Yoda talk). Just a few thoughts:

* If this wasn’t destiny, I don’t know what would be. The Giants beat the 13-3 Cowboys to end the finest season for Dallas in more than a decade. New York followed this by taking care of Green Bay at Lambeau Field, in the cold, and against Brett Favre, who was having a fairy tale season where he broke several of the most important career passing records that exist. The Giants then topped it off by ruining the Patriots’ bid for a perfect season.

* In other words, we shouldn’t feel quite so bad about the Dallas loss . . . but I do anyway.

* If the Cowboys were playing the Patriots tonight, however, I objectively and honestly think that Dallas would have had more trouble than the Giants had. The Cowboys struggled to generate pressure part of this season, and New York had success getting to Brady tonight with their front four. Jacques Reeves simply could not cover Wes Welker, and who knows how Roy Williams might screw something up.

* The Giant win may have helped the Cowboys’ franchise in terms of how the Dallas dynasty ranks to other squads. In a Fox poll, Dallas was second to the 1970s Steelers in terms of the greatest dynasties during the Super Bowl era. I wouldn’t take anything away from what the Patriots have done this decade, but of the dynasty teams, the Patriots are the only one to have lost a Super Bowl during their dynasty decade.

* I strongly disagree that tonight’s Super Bowl was the greatest upset in sports history. That has to go to Buster Douglas in his knockout win over Mike Tyson. Villanova’s win over Georgetown in 1985 is pretty close.

* As far as NFL upsets, the big one predates me: the Jets over the Colts. I think that the Patriots’ win over the Rams in 2001 was at least as shocking as the Giants’ win this year.

Video: Randy White Tribute

Here is a great video tribute to Randy White:

Comparing and Contrasting 2007 with 1966

The Dallas Morning News ran a story today indicating that Cowboys players are still haunted by the dreadful loss to the Giants in the playoffs. They ain’t alone, of course. Here’s a bit from that story:

For three Dallas Cowboys players who showed up for Super Bowl XLII festivities, this has been a difficult week.

All over town, they see huge pictures of Michael Strahan and the New York Giants’ logo is on every street corner. Try as they might, they can’t escape the disappointing loss in the divisional round of the playoffs to their NFC East rival.

“It does wear off, but now it’s back because you see the Giants and where they are in the game coming up,” said tight end Jason Witten, who is in town as a finalist for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award. “Getting these opportunities, having the No. 1 seed and the bye, we had it all set up to be in this situation. It’s tough. It’s tough to be a part of it because you see it. They earned it, going on the road and winning, they did earn it.”

Making it worse, the Cowboys beat the Giants twice in the regular season by 10 and 11 points, although those games were decided by a handful of plays in the second half. In the playoff game, Witten, linebackers Akin Ayodele and DeMarcus Ware said they made more mental mistakes than they had in any other game.

There are more than a couple of similarities between the end of the season for the 2007 Cowboys and the end of the campaign for the 1966 Cowboys. One is the most obvious: both ended on interceptions in the end zone. But the others are also worth noting as we prepare to watch Super Bowl XLII.

Compare: The Regular Seasons


The Cowboys in 1965 overcame a slow start to finish 7-7 and qualify for their first ever playoff appearance in the Playoff Bowl. Though the team lost that game, Dallas was obviously a franchise on the rise. The 1966 season marked the first time that Dallas finished with a winning record, as the Cowboys won five of their last six and went 10-3-1 to capture the Eastern Conference title.


The Cowboys in 2006 showed signs that they were contenders in the NFC. However, an 8-4 record turned into a 9-7 record, only good enough for a spot as a wildcard team in the playoffs. The team’s first playoff appearance in three years ended in disaster, as quarterback/holder Tony Romo dropped the ball on a field goal attempt that would have given Dallas the lead against Seattle. The team changed coaches, and new leader Wade Phillips led the squad to a 13-3 record that tied the club mark for wins in a season. Dallas won its first NFC East title since 1998.

Compare and Contrast: The Coaches


Tom Landry had a long-standing rivalry with Green Bay head coach Vince Lombardi that dated back to the days of the 1950s Giants teams. Lombardi took over the hapless Packers in 1959 and converted the franchise into a dynasty. Landry became the first head coach of the Dallas franchise for the inaugural season of 1960 and saw the team make steady improvements that led to the 1966 season.


Former Dallas coach Bill Parcells had a closer relationship with the current Giants staff than current Dallas coach Wade Phillips. Tom Coughlin was an assistant with Parcells and has a coaching style similar to the Big Tuna. Phillips, on the other hand, has a coaching philosophy that is the complete opposite of either.

Compare and Contrast: The Rivalries


The Cowboys and Packers hardly had a rivalry prior to the 1966 NFL Championship Game, given that Dallas had never won a regular season game over the Packers. On the other hand, Landry to a large degree failed in his chase to beat Lombardi during the 1960s.


As division rivals, the Cowboys and Giants are natural enemies, and the rivalry has heated up in recent years. Dallas swept the Giants in the regular season of 2007.

Compare: The Settings


The 1966 title game marked the first time that Dallas hosted a playoff matchup. It was considered the game of the decade at the time.


The divisional playoff game between the Cowboys and Giants was the first held at Texas Stadium since 1998.

Compare and Contrast: The Games


Green Bay jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter after scoring on offense and then recovering a Mel Renfro fumble and returning it for a score. Dallas rallied to tie the game at 14 in the first quarter, but trailed 21-17 at the half. The Packers appeared to have taken a commanding 34-20 lead in the fourth quarter after Bart Starr threw his third touchdown pass of the day, but Dallas stormed back. A 68-yard touchdown pass from Don Meredith to Frank Clarke cut the Packer lead to 34-27, and after the Dallas defense held the Packer offense, the Cowboys had one last chance to tie the game in regulation.


Dallas fell behind early after Giant quarterback Eli Manning hit Amani Toomer on a 52-yard touchdown pass early in the first quarter. Dallas regained its composure and tied the score early in the second. Later in the quarter, Dallas embarked on what appeared to be a season-defining drive, going 90 yards on 20 plays to take a 14-7 lead. The Giants, though, recovered to score a tying touchdown in the final seconds of the first half, and the Cowboys lost their momentum. After holding Dallas to a field goal in the third quarter, New York’s defense stepped up its pressure, and the Cowboys had a difficult time moving the ball for the rest of the game. A touchdown run by Brandon Jacobs gave the Giants a 21-17 lead in the fourth quarter.

Compare: The Final Drives


After the Cowboys held the Packers late in the fourth quarter, Green Bay punted. Don Chandler’s kick went off the side of his foot, and Dallas had the ball at the Green Bay 47 with 2:19 remaining. Two plays later, the Cowboys had moved the ball to the Green Bay 22, and a few plays after that, the Packers were called for interfering with Clarke near the end zone, giving Dallas the ball at the 2. This set up the final plays:

* 1st Down: Dan Reeves ran a dive that gained a yard. He was poked in the eye on the play and was having trouble seeing.
* 2nd Down: Tackle Jim Boeke was called for movement, pushing the ball back to the 6.
* 2nd Down: Meredith tried to hit Reeves on a swing pass that likely would have resulted in a score, but Reeves dropped the ball. Reeves probably should not have been in the game since he was seeing double as a result of his run from two plays earlier.
* 3rd Down: Pettis Norman caught a four-yard pass from Meredith to move the ball back to the 2.
* 4th Down: Bob Hayes was sent into the game to line up at tight end, a position he had never played. Linebacker Dave Robinson blew by Hayes to get to Meredith, who was forced into a desperation throw. Tom Brown of the Packers picked off the pass, ending the Cowboys’ season.


The Cowboys squandered a number of opportunities against the Giants but still only trailed by four late in the game. The Dallas defense forced a punt just after the two-minute warning, giving the Cowboys the ball at the Giant 48 with 1:50 remaining. Three plays later, the Cowboys moved the ball to the Giant 22. This set up the final plays:

* 1st Down: Tackle Marc Columbo was called for a false start, pushing the Cowboys back to the 27.
* 1st Down: Tony Romo hit tight end Jason Witten for a four-yard gain.
* 2nd Down: Romo’s pass to Witten is incomplete.
* 3rd Down: Romo lofted a pass to the corner of the end zone, where receiver Patrick Crayton appeared to have a step on cornerback Corey Webster. However, Crayton hesitated for a moment on the pattern, and he was unable to get under the ball.
* 4th Down: Romo’s desperation pass on fourth down was intercepted by R.W. McQuarters. The pass was intended for receiver Terry Glenn, who had only played in part of one game during the 2007 season, rather than Terrell Owens or Jason Witten.

Compare and Contrast: Who To Blame


NFL Films captured Boeke’s penalty, and the tackle was blamed for the loss. Meredith also took his share of the heat, as the replay of his failed 4th down attempt has become part of Cowboy infamy. Landry claimed that the team had blown it, but there is plenty of evidence that he had panicked at the end by sending Hayes into the game for Clarke at tight end. Reeves’ drop was another big factor, given that he should have scored.


Columbo has received little of the blame for his first-down penalty that backed Dallas up to the 27. Crayton has received heat along with cornerback Jacques Reeves, who was largely responsible for New York’s drive at the end of the first half. Romo has received blame much like Meredith, and the replay of his pass attempt to Glenn will probably be the one that is most remembered. What will likely be forgotten, though, is why the pass was not directed at Owens, who was clearly the go-to man all year.

The Legacies


This win was part of the Packer dynasty of the 1960s, as Green Bay went on to win the first Super Bowl. Dallas returned to the title game a year later, only to lose to Green Bay in the Ice Bowl. A number of the legends of that team– Don Meredith, Don Perkins, Frank Clarke– were not around when Dallas finally won its elusive title in 1971.


Here’s the little bit of irony in this loss, especially as it relates to that 1966 squad: If Dallas had beaten the Giants (Landry’s old team, no less), the Cowboys would have hosted Green Bay for the right to play the team that is in the middle of a dynasty.

At any rate, in two seasons, Tony Romo has nearly as many heartbreaking playoff losses as Don Meredith did in the latter’s entire career. Should history repeat itself, there is a good chance that a number of the big-name players — Owens, Roy Williams, Flozell Adams, Terry Glenn– won’t be around long enough to see Dallas finally break through to win its first title since 1995.

Cowboy Assistants with Prior Head Coaching Experience

Dave CampoOne of the big news items this week is that the Cowboys hired Dave Campo to serve as secondary coach. I’ve always wondered: how exactly could Campo have played defensive back at Central Connecticut State when he stands at somewhere around 5’4″?

Anyway, Campo’s defenses in the 1990s were solid, thanks largely to the unit’s speed and the presence of Deion Sanders. He has coached some great defensive backs (Bennie Blades at Miami, Kevin Smith at Dallas), so this move may turn out to be a good one.

Campo is one of only two men who served as assistant coaches for the Cowboys both before and after serving as an NFL head coach. The other was Dick Nolan, who left the Cowboys in 1968 to coach the 49ers and then the Saints, only to return to Dallas in 1982. Nolan has the distinction of coaching under both Tom Landry and Jimmy Johnson.

If the Cowboys also hire Dom Capers, he will become the eighth assistant in team history who had prior experience as a head coach.

Below are three lists: (1) assistant coaches who were head coaches prior to arriving in Dallas; (2) assistants who became head coaches after leaving Dallas; and (3) a complete list of assistant coaches in the history of the team.

Assistants Who Were Head Coaches Prior to Their Arrival in Dallas

Neill Armstrong (with Cowboys, 1982-89): Head Coach, Chicago Bears (1978-1981), 30-34 record.

Dave Campo (with Cowboys, 1989-2002, 2008-present): Head Coach, Dallas Cowboys (2000-2002), 15-33 record.

Bruce Coslet (with Cowboys, 2002): Head Coach, New York Jets (1990-1993); Head Coach, Cincinnati Bengals (1996-2000); 44-77 record.

Sid Gillman (with Cowboys, 1972): Head Coach, L.A. Rams (1955-1959); Head Coach, L.A. Chargers (AFL) (1960); Head Coach, San Diego Chargers (AFL) (1961-1970); Head Coach, Houston Oilers (1973-1974); 122-99-7 record.

Red Hickey (with Cowboys, 1964-65): Head Coach, San Francisco 49ers (1959-1963), 27-27-1 record.

Dick Nolan (with Cowboys, 1962-1967, 1982-1990): Head Coach, San Francisco 49ers (1968-1975); Head Coach, New Orleans Saints (1978-1980); 69-82-5 record.

Chris Palmer (with Cowboys, 2005): Head Coach, Cleveland Browns (1999-2000), 5-27 record.

Assistants Who Became Head Coaches After Leaving Dallas

Raymond Berry (with Cowboys, 1968-69): Head Coach, New England Patriots (1984-1989), 48-39 record.

Dave Campo (with Cowboys, 1989-2002, 2008-present): Head Coach, Dallas Cowboys (2000-2002), 15-33 record.

Butch Davis (with Cowboys, 1989-1994): Head Coach, Cleveland Browns (2001-2004), 24-34 record.

Mike Ditka (with Cowboys, 1973-1981): Head Coach, Chicago Bears (1982-1992); Head Coach, New Orleans Saints (1997-1999); 121-95 record.

Sid Gillman (with Cowboys, 1972): Head Coach, L.A. Rams (1955-1959); Head Coach, L.A. Chargers (AFL) (1960); Head Coach, San Diego Chargers (AFL) (1961-1970); Head Coach, Houston Oilers (1973-1974); 122-99-7 record.

John Mackovic (with Cowboys, 1981-82): Head Coach, Kansas City Chiefs (1983-1986), 30-34 record.

Dick Nolan (with Cowboys, 1962-1967, 1982-1990): Head Coach, San Francisco 49ers (1968-1975); Head Coach, New Orleans Saints (1978-1980); 69-82-5 record.

Sean Payton (with Cowboys, 2003-2005): Head Coach, New Orleans Saints (2006-present)

Dan Reeves (with Cowboys, 1970-1972, 1974-1980): Head Coach, Denver Broncos (1981-1992); Head Coach, N.Y. Giants (1993-1997); Head Coach, Atlanta Falcons (1997-2003); 192-166-2 record.

Dave Shula (with Cowboys, 1989-1990): Head Coach, Cincinnati Bengals (1992-1996), 19-52 record.

Gene Stallings : (with Cowboys, 1972-85): Head Coach, St. Louis/Phoenix Cardinals (1986-1989), 23-34-1 record.

Tony Sparano (with Cowboys, 2003-2007): Head Coach, Miami Dolphins (2008-present)

Norv Turner (with Cowboys, 1991-93): Head Coach, Washington Redskins (1994-2000); Head Coach, Oakland Raiders (2004-2005); Head Coach, San Diego Chargers (2007-present).

Dave Wannstedt (with Cowboys, 1989-92): Head Coach, Chicago Bears (1993-1998); Head Coach, Miami Dolphins (2000-2004); 82-87 record.

Dallas Cowboys Assistant Coaches

Hubbard Alexander: Receivers (1989-97)
Ermal Allen: Offensive Backfield (1962-69); Special Assistant (1970-79); Research and Development (1980-83)
Neill Armstrong: Research and Development (1982-89)
Joe Avezzano: Special Teams (1990-2000); Special Teams/Tight Ends (2001); Special Teams (2002)

Bill Bates: Special Teams/Defensive Assistant (1998-99); Defensive Backs (2000); Defensive Nickel Package/Assistant Special Teams (2001-02)
Jim Bates: Linebackers (1996-97); Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Line (1998-99)
Raymond Berry: Offensive Ends (1968-69)
John Blake: Defensive Line (1993-95)
Craig Boiler: Defensive Tackles (1996-97)
Todd Bowles: Secondary (2005-07)
Joe Brodsky: Running Backs (1989-97)
Vincent Brown: Inside Linebackers (2006)

Dave Campo: Defensive Assistant (1989-90); Defensive Backs (1991-94); Defensive Coordinator (1995-99); Secondary (2008-present)
Maurice Carthon: Offensive Coordinator (2003-04)
Wes Chandler: Receivers (2000-02)
Bruce Coslet: Offensive Coordinator (2002)

Tom Dahms: Defensive Line (1960-62)
Butch Davis: Defensive Line (1989-92); Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers (1993); Defensive Coordinator (1994)
Bruce DeHaven: Special Teams (2003-2006)
Babe Dimancheff: Backfield (1960-61)
Mike Ditka: Receivers/Tight Ends (1973-74); Special Teams/Tight Ends (1975-76, 1980); Special Teams/Receivers (1977-79, 1981)

Brad Ecklund: Offensive Line (1960-61); Defensive Line (1962-63)
Jim Eddy: Defensive Assistant (1993); Linebackers (1994-95)
George Edwards: Linebackers (1998-01)
Jim Erkenbeck: Offensive Line (1987-88)

Robert Ford: Tight Ends (1991-97)
Bobby Franklin: Defensive Backfield (1968-71); Special Teams (1972)

Jason Garrett: Offensive Coordinator (2007-present)
John Garrett: Tight Ends (2007-present)
Buddy Geis: Quarterbacks (1998-99); Offensive Nickel Package (2000)
Gary Gibbs: Linebackers (2002-05)
Sid Gillman: Special Assistant (1972)
Todd Grantham: Defensive Line (2008-present)

Paul Hackett: Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks/Receivers (1986); Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks (1987-88)
Todd Haley: Receivers (2004-2005); Receivers/Passing Game (2006)
Galen Hall: Running Backs (2002)
Tommy Hart: Defensive Ends (1996-97)
Red Hickey: Offensive Ends (1964-65)
Steve Hoffman: Kickers/Quality Control (1989-2004)
Hudson Houck: Offensive Line (1993-01, 2008-present)
Ed Hughes: Offensive Backfield (1973-74, 1976); Quarterbacks/Receivers (1975)

Jim Jeffcoat: Defensive Line Assistant (1998-99); Defensive Ends (2000-04)
Joe Juraszek: Strength and Conditioning (1997-present)

Freddie Kitchens: Tight Ends (2006)

Al Lavan: Running Backs (1980-88)
David Lee: Offensive Assistant/Quality Control (2003-04); Quarterbacks/Offensive Quality Control (2005); Offensive Quality Control (2006)
Alan Lowry: Special Teams (1982-86); Receivers (1987-88); Special Teams/Tight Ends (1989); Tight Ends (1990)
Anthony Lynn: Running Backs (2005-06)

Mike MacIntyre: Assistant Secondary (2003-04); Assistant Secondary/Defensive Quality Control (2005); Safeties (2006)
John Mackovic: Quarterbacks (1981-82)
John McNulty: Wide Receivers (2003)
Ron Meeks: Defensive Assistant (1991)
Les Miles: Tight Ends (1998-2000)
Jim Myers: Offensive Line (1962-72); Offensive Coordinator (1973-74); Offensive Coodinator/Offensive Line (1975-76); Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Line (1977-86)

Dat Nguyen: Assistant Linebackers/Defensive Quality Control (2007)
Dick Nolan: Defensive Backfield (1962-67); Receivers (1982-85); Defensive Backs (1986-90)

Dwain Painter: Receivers (1998-99)
Chris Palmer: Quarterbacks (2006)
Paul Pasqualoni: Tight Ends (2005); Linebackers (2006-07)
Andre Patterson: Defensive Tackles (2000-02)
Sean Payton: Assistant Head Coach/Quarterbacks (2003-04); Assistant Head Coach/Passing Game Coordinator (2005)
Skip Peete: Running Backs (2007)
Clancy Pendergast: Defensive Assistant/Quality Control (1996-99); Defensive Nickel Package (2000); Defensive Backs (2001-02)
Wes Phillips: Offensive Assistant/Offensive Quality Control (2007)

Bruce Read: Special Teams (2007)
Dan Reeves: Offensive Backfield (1970-72, 1975); Special Teams (1974); Quarterbacks/Receivers (1976); Offensive Coordinator/Offensive Backs (1977-79); Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks/Receivers (1980)
Jack Reilly: Quarterbacks (1997); Offensive Coordinator (2000-01)
Ray Renfro: Passing Offense (1968-72)
Jerry Rhome: Quarterbacks (1989)
Tommie Robinson: Offensive Assistant (1998-99); Special Teams Assistant (2000)
Kacy Rodgers: Defensive Tackles (2003-04); Defensive Line (2005-07)
Alvin Roy: Strength and Conditioning (1973-75)

Greg Seamon: Tight Ends (2002)
Clarence Shelmon: Running Backs (1998-2001)
Ray Sherman: Wide Receivers (2007)
Jim Shofner: Quarterbacks (1983-85)
Dave Shula: Offensive Coordinator (1989); Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks (1990)
Bob Slowik: Defensive Assistant (1992)
Glenn Smith: Offensive Assistant (2000-01)
Mike Solari: Special Teams (1987-88)
Tony Sparano: Tight Ends (2003-04); Running Game Coordinator/Offensive Line (2005); Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Line/Running Game (2006); Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Line (2007)
Ernie Stautner: Defensive Line (1966-72); Defensive Coordinator (1973-74); Defensive Coordinator/Defensive Line (1975-88)
Brian Stewart: Defensive Coordinator (2007)

Jerry Tubbs: Linebackers (1966-88)
Norv Turner: Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks (1991-93)

Frank Verducci: Offensive Line (2002)

Dave Wannstedt: Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers (1989-92)
Bob Ward: Strength and Conditioning (1976-89)
George Warhop: Offensive Line (2003-04)
Wade Wilson: Quarterbacks (2000-02, 2007)
Tony Wise: Offensive Line (1989-92)
Mike Woicik: Strength and Conditioning (1990-96)

Ernie Zampese: Offensive Coordinator (1994-97)
Mike Zimmer: Defensive Assistant (1994); Defensive Backs (1995-99); Defensive Coordinator (2000-2006)

Classic Cowboys Fact: The Cowboys Didn’t Always Wear White at Home

Here is some obscure trivia (also posted on the Classic Cowboys forum):

Contrary to what I believed, the Cowboys did not always wear white for their home games.

Below is a shot from the very first game in franchise history, a 35-28 loss to Pittsburgh at the Cotton Bowl. #87 is DE Nate Borden and #72 [on the ground] is DT Bill Herchman. Pittsburgh QB is, of course, Bobby Layne.


This is admittedly before my time, and I have seen a number of other pictures of the Cowboys wearing blue. If anyone happens to know when Dallas started wearing whites for every game, please leave a comment.

MOP Award, Honorable Mention: Dicky Moegle

mop.bmp[Note: this piece was updated after its original posting] Thanks to the suggestion of Marty Ogelvie of Cowboys Cards (great site for Cowboys history), we have a second nominee for Most Obscure Player of 1961. The original winner was defensive back Don Bishop, but there was a second player equally deserving of the recognition.

Dicky (also spelled Dickey) Moegle was an All-American running back at Rice University during the 1950s. In the 1954 Cotton Bowl between Rice and Alabama, Moegle set a record with 265 rushing yards, which stood until Missouri’s Tony Temple rushed for 281 in 2008.

Moegle was then drafted by the San Francisco 49ers and played both ways for three seasons. His finest season on defense came in 1957, when he had eight interceptions. However, he suffered a season-ending knee injury in 1958 and was less productive in 1959.

He played for Pittsburgh in 1960 (recording six interceptions that year) before being picked up by Dallas for the 1961 season. In that trade, Dallas gave up safety Billy Butler and tackle Dick Klein. He started at free safety for Dallas in 1961, picking off two passes. However, during training camp in 1962, Tom Landry informed Moegle that the team had decided to put Moegle on waivers. The safety instead decided to quit, moving back to Houston to run a hotel.

That was his final season as a pro, retiring at age 27. A Dallas Morning News article referred to Moegle as “old horse” who decided to leave “the stable.”

For more on Dicky Moegle, see:

Dallas Morning News article (1961): New Cowboy: Dicky Moegle

Dallas Morning News article (1962): An Old Horse Leaves the Stable


Cowboys Cards

Database Football

College Football Hall of Fame

Dick Moegle


Classic Article: ‘Rangers Hire Tom Landry’ (1959)

Tom LandryThe first name given to the NFL franchise in Dallas was the Dallas Rangers. Prior to the time that the other NFL owners voted to allow Dallas to enter the league, the Cowboys had already signed a quarterback named Don Meredith and a coach named Tom Landry. The headline in the Dallas Morning News on December 29, 1959 read, “Rangers Hire Tom Landry.”

This was some time before Major League Baseball’s Texas Rangers came into existence. However, there was a minor league franchise in Dallas at that time named the Dallas Rangers, and the thought was that it would be confusing to have a football team with the same name. Thus, in March 1960, the name Dallas Cowboys emerged.

Tom Landry Hired

Rangers Hire Tom Landry

by Charles Burton
(Dallas Morning News, Dec. 29, 1959)

Tom Landry, defensive coach of the New York Giants, flew back to his home town Monday with a 5-year contract in his pocket to coach the proposed Dallas Rangers of the National Football League.

Landry was accompanied by another University of Texas graduate, Tex Schramm, who has taken the post of general manager of the club, which expects to be awarded an NFL franchise at a January 20 session of the pro circuit.

If the franchise is granted to Dallas there will be two pro football teams in the city next season, including Lamar Hunt’s Dallas Texans in the American Professional Football League.

Schramm expressed complete confidence of George Halas, chairman of the NFL expansion committee, that Dallas would be awarded a franchise. There are strong indications within NFL circles, however, that Halas, the leagues No. 1 exponent of expansion into Dallas and Minneapolis next season, may not be assured of the necessary votes of 10 of the 12 present clubs.

Landry said that if the expansion vote is unfavorable, his contract with the Rangers will be null and void, but that he will be paid a certain sum for the risk he is taking. He said that in such an eventuality, he will be free to take another job, including the post he has just given up with the Giants.

Schramm said that the Rangers would play at least part of their home games, and “probably all” of them in them in the 75,502-seat Cotton Bowl.

Hunt’s Texans have first call on dates in the big stadium, and plan to play seven AFL championship games and an exhibition in it. It is understood that a clause in his contract prohibits use of the stadium for professional football on days other than Sundays.

Bedford Wynne, who with Clint Murchison Jr., is an applicant for the Dallas NFL franchise, also expressed confidence that the Rangers would have use of the stadium.

The landing of Landry was the second major coup scored over the fledgling American League by the Murchison-Wynne combination in the fantastic battle for professional football patronage in Dallas next season.

They snatched up the coveted No. 1 draft choice of the Dallas Texans, Don Meredith, the Southern Methodist forward passing star, by signing him to a “personal services contract” even before the National League held its annual selection meeting. Meredith generally was regarded as the top pro prize among graduating collegians, with Billy Cannon, the Louisiana State halfback, his only close challenger in evaluation of talent scouts.

Landry, praised recently by Jim Lee Howell, head coach of the Giants, as “the greatest coach in football,” has been contacted by at least four clubs with regard to becoming their head coach. One of those which checked on his availability was Hunt’s Texans. Hunt withdrew from the scramble to hire Henry (Hank) Stram, University of Miami backfield coach, and former Southern Methodist assistant. Another was Bud Adams’ Houston Oilers of the AFL.

The Los Angeles Rams of the NFL reportedly were interested in obtaining Landry’s services, though Pete Rozelle, that club’s general manager, wouldn’t come right out and say so Monday.

“He is one whom we obviously would have given serious consideration,” Rozelle told The Dallas News,” but we have known that he was committed”

Adams also apparently had suspected that Landry was leaning toward a tie-up with the Murchison-Wynne group, for he was interviewing another prospect for the post when contacted by The News Monday morning.

“Landry was supposed to telephone me last night or today,” Adams said, “but I haven’t heard from him yet.”

At that moment, Landry and Schramm were flying to Dallas to make their not entirely unexpected announcement. Schramm had released it earlier in New York.

Adams said Landry had told him in their discussions that “it is 50-50” whether Dallas is granted an NFL franchise and that he might have to wait until then to decide on a Houston offer.

The Houston clubowner said he could not wait until then to hire a coach, and though he had not heard finally from Landry, he was in conference with Lou Rymkus, former offensive line coach for the Rams. Rymkus became available when Sid Gillman was fired as head coach of the Los Angeles team at the end of the season.

“I think I will be able to announce my coach within a day or two,” the Oiler owner said. “I have talked to several prospects other than Landry.”

Landry expressed delight that the Rangers have Meredith under contract.

“All we’ve got is a coach and pitcher,” he said, “but that’s a start. Now we’ve got to get some more players.”

Schramm said the NFL would provide the club with a nucleus of veteran pro players but that neither the exact number nor the method of their choosing had been decided.

Landry, looking at the prospects realistically, said it was obvious that no NFL club would give up its best players on such a transfer, but “the league doesn’t want any weak clubs, either. That hurts everybody.”

He said he planned to hire four assistant coaches, but that he had no one in mind particularly at the moment.

“You never know who might be available,” he said, “until it becomes known the jobs are available.”

A few notes of interest about this article:

* Prior to the expansion draft in 1960, the Cowboys actually signed two standout college players to personal services contracts. In addition to Meredith, Dallas obtained the rights to running back Don Perkins.

* Interesting that Landry chose the NFL expansion team over the upstart AFL clubs in Dallas and Houston. In 1949, he chose to sign with the New York Yankees of the AAFC rather than the New York Giants of the NFL, later joining the Giants when the leagues merged.

* The NFL did, of course, add teams in both Dallas and Minneapolis. The AFL originally wanted a team in Minnesota, but the proposed owner, Max Winter, double-crossed the AFL owners by choosing to join the NFL. The AFL decided instead to establish a franchise in Oakland, CA.

* Also interesting that the DMN interviewed Pete Rozelle for this piece. At the same meeting where the NFL owners granted the Dallas franchise, they also elected Rozelle to replace Burt Bell as NFL commissioner.

A Recap of Classic Cowboys Features

dallas_logo.gifThe original idea behind this website was to provide a trivia blog that would somehow connect the Cowboys teams from the past with the team of the present. Then the season comes, and I tend to veer off-course. If I were driven solely by bringing traffic on the site, I suspect there might be ways that I could attract more people by focusing on T.O.’s suicide attempt last year or Tony Romo’s love life with the latest blonde. But I simply don’t care much about those things, and there are plenty of other Cowboys bloggers that do.

So what can you expect here during the offseason?

* Current news, as least with regard to items that I think ought to be on here.

* Draft and free agency news, given that these periods are nearly as active as the season itself.

* Lots of Classic Cowboys, including the continuation of some series, summarized below.

Most Obscure Player Award

I have identified some obscure players from each season in team history. These are not necessarily complete nobodies but are rather players who contributed but who have long since been forgotten.

1960: Dave Sherer

1961: Don Bishop

1962: Mike Gaechter

1963: Billy Howton

1964: Buddy Dial

1965: Pete Gent

1966: Willie Townes

1967: Ron East

1968: Craig Baynham

1969: Dennis Homan

Historic Drafts

I also started a series that provides retrospective look at old drafts, offering a grade based on the long-term success of the draft. I tend to grade tough, by the way.

1960 Expansion Draft (Big Name: Frank Clarke)

1961: C- (Big Name: Bob Lilly)

1962: D (Big Name: George Andrie)

1963: C (Big Name: Lee Roy Jordan)

1964: A (Big Names: Mel Renfro, Roger Staubach, Bob Hayes)

1965: C- (Big Name: Craig Morton)

1966: B- (Big Name: John Niland)

1967: C- (Big Name: Rayfield Wright)

1968: C- (Big Name: Blaine Nye)

1969: D (Big Name: Calvin Hill)


As usual, there will be more than a fair share of trivia items. If you like classic Cowboys trivia, you might also want to check out 5 Blings: The Classic Cowboys Forum.

Favorite Classic Cowboys Elimination: Staubach Over Emmitt

Roger Staubach

Last June, a moderator named Starbuck on the Dallas Cowboys Fan Zone started the Favorite Classic Cowboys Elimination. Several of us offered names, and then the competition began. Seven months later, we have a winner: Roger Staubach, who proved to be more popular than Emmitt Smith, Tom Landry, Bob Lilly, and a whole bunch of others.

I admittedly did not vote as often as others throughout the contest, and hats off to those who did. But I’ve followed it for the duration as the field fell from nearly 140 down to two. The rules were that all players began with 10 points, and then site users added one point to one player and negative one to another. Players were divided into groups, and once a group had been narrowed down to a manageable number, a new group was introduced.

The top 12 players are as follows:

12. Harvey Martin, DE

11. Jimmy Johnson, Head Coach

10. Charlie Waters, S

9. Chuck Howley, LB

8. Tony Dorsett, RB

7. Drew Pearson, WR

6. Mel Renfro, CB/S

5. Lee Roy Jordan, LB

4. Bob Lilly, DT/DE

3. Tom Landry, Head Coach

2. Emmitt Smith, RB

1. Roger Staubach, QB

Here is the complete summary:

First Group, Beginning June 20, 2007

QB-Troy Aikman
RB-Calvin Hill
RB/FB-Don Perkins
RB-Herschel Walker
FB-James Jones
TE-Mike Ditka
TE-Jean Fugett
WR-“Bullet” Bob Hayes
WR-Kelvin “K-Mart” Martin
WR-Golden Richards
G-Larry Allen
G-John Niland
C-John Fitzgerald
DE-George Andrie
DE-Jim Jeffcoat
DE-Harvey “Too Mean” Martin
DT-Kevin Brooks
DT-Russell Maryland
DT/LB-Randy “The Manster” White
LB-Dave Edwards
LB-Mike Hegman
LB-Thomas “Hollywood” Henderson
LB-Eugene Lockhart
LB-D.D. Lewis
LB-Dat Nguyen
CB-Larry Brown
CB-Ron Fellows (Thurman’s Thieves)
CB-Cornell Green
CB-Mark Washington
S-Michael Downs (Thurman’s Thieves)
S-Randy Hughes
S-George “Defender Of The Star” Teague
S-Charlie Waters
VP-Gil Brandt

Second Group, Beginning July 8, 2007

QB-Roger “Captain America” Staubach
RB-Doug Dennison
RB-Robert Lavette
RB-Preston Pearson
FB-Darryl Clack
FB-Robert “Bowling Ball” Newhouse
TE-Doug Cosbie
TE-Jay “Novacatch” Novacek
WR-Frank Clarke
WR-Michael “The Playmaker” Irvin
WR-Butch “California Quake” Johnson
G-Kevin Gogan
OT-Tony Liscio
OT-Ralph Neely
OT-Rayfield Wright
C-Dave Manders
C-Mark Stepnoski
K-Efren Herrera
DE-Larry Cole
DE-Danny Noonan
DT-Larry Bethea
DT-Bill Gregory
DT-Don Smerek
LB-Bob Breunig
LB-Jack Del Rio
LB-Ken Norton Jr.
LB-Jeff Rohrer
CB-Ron Francis
CB/S-Mike Gaechter
CB-Victor Scott (Thurman’s Thieves)
S-Dexter Clinkscale
S-Cliff Harris
S-James Washington

Third Group, Beginning July 22, 2007

QB-“Dandy” Don Meredith
QB-Steve Pelleur
RB-Walt Garrison
RB-Emmitt “Catch-22” Smith
RB-Ron Springs
FB-Timmy Newsome
TE-Billy Joe DuPree
WR-Alvin “The 49er Killer” Harper
WR-Lance Rentzel
G-“Big” Nate Newton
G-Blaine Nye
OT-Mark Tuinei
C-Derek Kennard
C-Tom Rafferty
DE-Charles Haley
DE-Pat Toomay
DT-Tony Casillas
DT-Leon Lett
DT/DE-Bob “Mr Cowboy” Lilly
LB-Dexter Coakley
LB-Robert Jones
LB-Godfrey Miles
LB-Jim Schwantz
CB-Isaac Holt
CB-Deion “Prime Time” Sanders
CB-Everson Walls (Thurman’s Thieves)
S-Bill “Bates Motel” Bates
S-Thomas Everett
S-Brock Marion
HC-Jimmy “How ‘Bout Them Cowboys” Johnson
Owner-Clint Murchison

Fourth Group, Beginning Aug. 8, 2007

QB-Eddie LeBaron
QB/P-Danny White
RB-Tony Dorsett
RB-Dan Reeves
RB-Duane Thomas
FB-Daryl “Moose” Johnston
TE-Jay Saldi
WR-Tony “Thrill” Hill
WR-Drew “Mr. Clutch” Pearson
WR Mike Renfro
G-Crawford Ker
G-Herbert Scott
OT-Pat Donovan
OT-Erik Williams
C-John Gesek
K-Rafael Septien
DE-Ed “Too Tall” Jones
DE-Tony Tolbert
DT-John Dutton
DT-Chad Hennings
DT-Jethro Pugh
LB-Dixon Edwards
LB-Chuck Howley
LB-Lee Roy Jordan
LB-Darrin Smith
LB-Jerry Tubbs
CB/S-Mel Renfro
CB-Kevin Smith
S-Kenneth “The Shark” Gant
S-Dennis Thurman (Thurman’s Thieves)
S-Darren “Woody” Woodson
HC-Tom “America’s Coach” Landry
GM-Tex Schramm

The Finalists, Beginning August 27

QB-Troy Aikman
QB-“Dandy” Don Meredith
QB-Roger “Captain America” Staubach
RB-Tony Dorsett
RB-Walt Garrison
RB-Emmitt “Catch-22” Smith
FB-Daryl “Moose” Johnston
TE-Jay “Novacatch” Novacek
WR-“Bullet” Bob Hayes
WR-Michael “The Playmaker” Irvin
WR-Butch “California Quake” Johnson
WR-Drew “Mr. Clutch” Pearson
OT-Rayfield Wright
C-Mark Stepnoski
DE-Larry Cole
DE-Charles Haley
DE-Jim Jeffcoat
DE-Ed “Too Tall” Jones
DE-Harvey “Too Mean” Martin
DT-Tony Casillas
DT-Leon Lett
DT/DE-Bob “Mr Cowboy” Lilly
DT-Jethro Pugh
DT/LB-Randy “The Manster” White
LB-Bob Breunig
LB-Thomas “Hollywood” Henderson
LB-Chuck Howley
LB-Lee Roy Jordan
LB-D.D. Lewis
LB-Dat Nguyen
CB/S-Mel Renfro
CB-Everson Walls (Thurman’s Thieves)
S-Bill “Bates Motel” Bates
S-Cliff Harris
S-George “Defender Of The Star” Teague
S-James Washington
S-Charlie Waters
S-Darren “Woody” Woodson
HC-Jimmy “How ‘Bout Them Cowboys” Johnson
HC-Tom “America’s Coach” Landry