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The Dallas Cowboys did not participate in the NFL Draft in December 1959. The team instead chose players in an expansion draft that took place later.
The first NFL draft in which the Cowboys participated was the one during the offseason between the 1960 and 1961 seasons. Unlike modern drafts, those old drafts took place earlier in the year.
The 1961 Draft actually took place on December 27 and 28 in 1960. The draft then was not the spectacle it is today, but it did receive news coverage.
Dallas had traded its rights to the second overall pick to Washington in exchange for the rights to Eddie LeBaron. The Cowboys traded back into the first round by sending Paul Dickson and a first-round pick in 1962 to Cleveland in exchange for the 13th overall pick.
With that first-round selection, Dallas took defensive tackle Bob Lilly. In the second round, Dallas took linebacker E.J. Holub.
The Cowboys expected a bidding war with the Dallas Texans to see who would sign Lilly and Holub. The Cowboys, of course, signed Lilly, while Holub became a standout linebacker with the Texans/Chiefs franchise.
The rest of the 1961 draft was not a great one for the Cowboys. Nine of the seventeen players taken never played a down in the NFL. The Cowboys did find a future hall-of-famer in guard Billy Shaw, but he played his entire career in Buffalo of the AFL.
A veteran NFL scout thought the Cowboys had done a good job in the draft, asking “What are you going to do with all those ‘hosses.”
Here’s the subject of today’s trivia question. In addition to Lilly and Holub, to whom was the scout referring in the quote below?
“You’ve got a real good draft there with Lilly, Holub, and __________. I like them.”
Different kind of trivia from the files of “I didn’t know that.”
On the front page of the Dallas Morning News during the draft in December 1960, the front-page headline announced that President-Elect John F. Kennedy had named a Secretary of the Navy.
It was John B. Connally.
About three years later, it was Connally who was riding in the limousine with Kennedy when Kennedy was assassinated in downtown Dallas. By that time, Connally was serving as the Governor of Texas.
The Cowboys have had at least one first-round pick during each of the past six drafts. Between 2000 and 2009, however, Dallas traded away its first-round pick four times (2000, 2001, 2004, and 2009).
Below is a graphic showing the first-round picks since 2000.
The late Pete Gent is well-known for his book, North Dallas Forty. He played for the Cowboys for five seasons between 1964 and 1968.
Although he was never a full-time starter, he had a pretty good season in 1966. He started ten games that season and caught 27 passes for 474 yards and a touchdown. Dallas had its first winning season that year, finishing 10-3-1 before losing to Green Bay in the NFL Championship Game.
Because the Cowboys did so well that year, several publications featured the team. One publication quoted Gent, who was often very quotable.
Below is a quote. Can you fill in the blank?
“What I lack in speed, I make up for in _____________________.”
Here’s a bonus quote trivia item.
The same publication also featured some quotes from placekicker Danny Villanueva.
Calling Villanueva “invaluable” (with a FG% of 54.8% that season!), the publication notes the following:
“[Villanueva] makes a grand showing of avoiding tackling at all costs on the grounds that he is a “______________ _____________.”
Here is an animated GIF showing a play from Super Bowl XIII. Trivia questions follows:
(1) Hollywood Henderson is the player who took Terry Bradshaw to the ground after the fumble. What did Henderson famously say about Bradshaw’s intelligence before the game?
(2) Which player returned the fumble for a touchdown?
(3) True or false? This play is the only defensive touchdown the Cowboys scored in eight Super Bowl appearances.
(4) Bradshaw fumbled twice against the Cowboys in SB XIII. Which Dallas player recovered the first fumble?
(5) Another linebacker recorded an interception against the Steelers in SB XIII. Who was that player?
Below is a quote from Tex Schramm.
“I’m still not sure if we’re doing the right thing by playing this game.”
During which season did Schramm make this comment, and what was the context?
While you’re pondering that one..
Most know that the Cowboys signed Alfred Morris to a two-year contract worth $3.5 million contract.
In four seasons in Washington, Morris rushed for 4713 yards and 29 touchdowns.
He did especially well against Dallas. In eight games, Morris rushed for a total of 710 yards. This included three games where he rushed for more than 100 yards and one game where he rushed for 200.
The other player signed was defensive end Benson Mayowa, who played in Oakland in 2014 and 2015 after spending one year in Seattle. The Raiders never faced the Cowboys while Mayowa played there. He has recorded a total of two sacks during his NFL career.
Mock drafts have the Cowboys taking any of a number of players at #4. A few names:
Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State (Todd McShay, ESPN, among many others)
Jalen Ramsey, DE, Florida State (Bleacher Report)
Myles Jack, LB, UCLA (Sports Illustrated)
In January 1964, many Dallas Cowboys fans apparently wanted to see the team develop new uniforms. A column by Dallas Morning News writer Sam Blair referred to a letter allegedly written by a group known as GNDLFBSTHCPDCSS, which complained about the “generous assortment of stars on the helmets and jerseys” and said that fans unhappy with the team’s original garb believed that “no first-rate team wears second-rate uniforms.”
So, the difficult trivia question: In Blair’s column, to what does GNDLFBSTHCPDCSS refer?
Before I provide the answer, here is the team’s original uniform, worn between 1960 and 1963:
I would also comment on two quotes.
“I’m a lot more concerned about the players we put in those uniforms. I’ve never seen a good-looking uniform win a game.”
“We want an emblem on our helmets, which some guy in Minneapolis will quickly identify with the Dallas Cowboys. We believe the boot and spur will do this, but the star didn’t. Evidently most people around the country didn’t associate the star with Texas, the Lone Star State.”
— Tex Schramm
Thankfully, the Cowboys did not discard the star on the helmet for the boot and spur. The Cowboys did, of course, add silver as a major color, and the team started wearing white jerseys at home.
As for the meaning of GNDLFBSTHCPDCSS, it was actually in a few DMN articles—Greater North Texas Loyal Fans, Boosters, and Season Ticket Holders Committee for Providing the Dallas Cowboys with Sartorial Splendor.
The Dallas Cowboys have the fourth pick in the NFL draft, as everyone knows, and a number of fans want to see the Cowboys take a quarterback who will eventually replace Tony Romo.
Jerry Jones’ take? Romo will last another four or five years. He will be 36 at the beginning of next season.
Summarizing how franchise quarterbacks in team history fared past the age of 36 is pretty easy. Few of them have made it that long.
Don Meredith was 30 during his last season. Troy Aikman was 34. That eliminates two of them.
Of the others, Roger Staubach had the best performances after turning 36. In 1978 at the age of 36, he led the league in passer rating during the first season in which teams played 16 games instead of 14 games. One year later at the age of 37, in what turned out to be his final season, Staubach set career highs in passing yards and passing touchdowns.
Danny White is the only other franchise QB to play until the age of 36, but his final season was one to forget. He played in only three games.
The last time before 2015 that Romo missed significant time was 2010. He followed that with four mostly complete seasons.
Below is an animated GIF showing a touchdown pass from Roger Staubach to Tony Hill. Some trivia questions about this play appear below the image.
(1) During what year did this play occur?
A few additional facts may help: the play covered 30 yards, and one of the defenders was Gary Jeter (#70), a first-round pick of the Giants.
(2) Staubach threw a total of 153 touchdown passes. Which two players caught the most from Staubach?
(3) Hill caught Staubach’s final regular-season touchdown pass. Which player caught the first?
(4) While we’re at it, which player caught Staubach’s last touchdown pass in the 1979 playoff loss to the L.A. Rams?
(5) True or false? Staubach threw more touchdown passes against the Giants than any other team.
Some other notes…
- This game took place during a 12-game winning streak the Cowboys recorded against the Giants in the 1970s. Dallas lost the Giants on September 29, 1974, but won the second matchup in October. The Cowboys would not lose again to the Giants until 1980, when Dallas lost by a Joe Delano field goal at Giants Stadium.
- Harry Carson (#53) appears in the GIF above. He was a member of the Giants during eight of those losses to the Cowboys.
- Hill caught his first NFL touchdown from Staubach in 1978 against the Rams. He caught his final touchdown pass from Danny White in 1986 against the Cardinals. The only other players to throw a touchdown pass to Hill were Gary Hogeboom and receiver Drew Pearson.
Given the occasion that former Cowboy great DeMarcus Ware is playing in the Super Bowl and the Cowboys are still trying to figure out why they lost 12 games, it’s time for some animated trivia.
First, the image:
Now, the trivia questions:
(1) During which year did this game take place?
(2) Did the Cowboys win this game?
(3) How many interceptions did Ware have during his career in Dallas?
(4) Has Ware had any interceptions as a member of the Broncos?
(5) Of the players shown in the GIF, how many were members of the Cowboys in 2015?
For the 20th consecutive year, Cowboys fans are forced to watch conference championship games that do not feature the Dallas Cowboys. Instead, Cowboys fans get to ponder news about Tony Romo having a plate inserted in his collarbone.
This is not the longest drought that teams have faced after forming dynasties in the past. In fact, it will take eight more years before the Cowboys match the drought of the Green Bay Packers.
Here’s a look at some dynasties of the past:
The Dynasty: Including the four years of the AFFC, Cleveland won eight championships in 20 years.
Aftermath: The Browns won their last NFL title in 1964. They continued to be a force for the rest of the 1960s but never made it to a Super Bowl.
Post-dynasty Drought: 17 years. After reaching the NFL Championship Game in 1969, the Browns would not return to a conference title game until 1986.
Green Bay Packers
The Dynasty: Green Bay won five titles between 1961 and 1967, including the first two Super Bowl titles.
Aftermath: The Packers were a mediocre franchise for a long time and reached the playoffs only twice between 1968 and 1993.
Post-dynasty Drought: 28 years. The Packers lost in the divisional round of the playoffs in 1993 and 1994 before reaching the NFC Championship Game in 1995. They lost to the Cowboys that year but won the Super Bowl the following year.
The Dynasty: Four Super Bowl titles in six years.
Aftermath: Pittsburgh stumbled in the early 1980s thanks to injuries and age. The Steelers made the AFC Championship Game in 1984 after recording only a 9-7 record.
Post-dynasty Drought: 10 years. The Steelers made the playoffs three times between 1985 and 1993 but did not return to the AFC Championship Game until 1994. They reached the Super Bowl in 1995, losing to Dallas.
San Francisco 49ers
The Dynasty: Five Super Bowl titles in 14 years.
Aftermath: San Francisco remained competitive for the rest of the 1990s, but the bottom fell out in 1999.
Post-dynasty Drought: 14 years. The 49ers made the NFC Championship Game in 1997 but would not return until 2011. San Francisco reached the Super Bowl in 2012.
The Dynasty: Three Super Bowl titles in 10 years.
Aftermath: Washington has struggled to become a winning team since its last Super Bowl title in 1991.
Post-dynasty Drought: 24 years. The Redskins have made the playoffs only six times since its last title.
The Dynasty: Three Super Bowl titles in four years.
Aftermath: The Cowboys were the first dynasty to suffer from the salary cap. Opponents signed several key players, and Dallas was unable to get back to the top in the latter half of the 1990s.
Post-dynasty Drought: 20 years. The Cowboys have reached the playoffs eight times since their last Super Bowl win but have won only two playoff games.
As we all know, the 2015 Dallas Cowboys will go down in history as one of the worst teams in franchise history.
And, of course, the team might be best known for its lack of turnovers. The team forced only 11 turnovers in 16 games.
In the history of the NFL, the team’s turnover differential of -22 ranks as the 27th worst in a season. Among teams playing 16-game seasons since 1978, only 14 teams have had a turnover differential worse than -22.
The 14 teams with turnover differentials worse than -22 since 1978 have won an average of 3.78 games.
It is only fitting that Dallas went 4-12.
This was not the worst season in NFL history or in team history, however. Below are a few points about turnover differential in league history.
Worst of all time: 1965 Pittsburgh Steelers
The worst turnover differential in league history, or at least dating back to 1940, was -30 by the 1965 Pittsburgh Steelers.
The 1965 Steelers were a miserable 2-12. Pittsburgh turned the ball over six times in a game against the Cowboys and seven times in a game against the Redskins.
What gave those Steelers the worst turnover differential was Pittsburgh’s miserable performance against the Cardinals on December 12, 1965.
Quarterback Tommy Wade threw seven interceptions, while Bill Nelson threw two more. Moreover, the team lost three fumbles, giving Pittsburgh a total of 12 turnovers in one game. It tied a league mark for most turnovers in a single game.
The Steelers turned the ball over five times in their season finale, giving the team 57 turnovers in one year.
Modern futility: 2000 San Diego Chargers
Since the league expanded to 16-game seasons in 1978, the worst team in terms of turnover differential has been the 2000 San Diego Chargers.
Led by the infamous Ryan Leaf and the 37-year-old Jim Harbaugh, the Chargers went 1-15 that season. They turned the ball over at least twice in every game that year and suffered five turnovers in three consecutive games.
By season’s end, the Chargers had 50 turnovers. The defense only managed 22, giving the team a turnover ratio of -28.
Worst in Cowboys’ history: 1989 and 1960
The worst seasons in team history remain the 1960 and 1989 seasons. The 2015 season was not far behind, though.
In 12 games during the franchise’s inaugural season of 1960, Dallas turned the ball over 50 times while forcing only 26 turnovers, giving the team a differential of -24.
That mark stood for 29 years until the 1989 Cowboys had a turnover differential of -25.
The 2015 Cowboys will take their place among those horrible teams with the third-worst season.
1989 Cowboys (1-15): -25
1960 Cowboys (0-11-1): -24
2015 Cowboys (4-12): -22
1988 Cowboys (3-13): -21
2004 Cowboys (6-10): -15
The Best of All Time: 1983 Washington Redskins
Not surprisingly, teams with the highest positive turnover differential have performed well.
The team with the highest differential were the 1983 Redskins, who finished with a 14-2 record. Washington forced an incredible 61 turnovers while committing only 18, for a differential of 43.
The next highest number on the list was +30 by the 1958 Baltimore Colts.
The Best of Dallas Teams: 1981
The Cowboys have had some great defenses, but in terms of regular-season statistics, no team has had an especially impressive turnover ratio.
The best season for the franchise in this context was the 1981 Cowboys. Thanks largely to rookie Everson Walls’ 11 interceptions, Dallas forced 53 turnovers and finished the season with a ratio of +18.
Here is the list of the top five:
1981 Cowboys (12-4): +18
1971 Cowboys (11-3): +16
1973 Cowboys (10-4): +13
1970 Cowboys (10-4): +11
1998 Cowboys (10-6): +11