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Fifty years ago, the Dallas Cowboys were heading into a season trying to improve on a 7-7 record from 1965. Dallas was stacked on both sides of the ball and would finish the 1966 season with a record of 10-3-1.
During the offseason in 1966, the Cowboys announced that one of the defensive players from the previous year was going to move over to the offense. Here is a quote from Tom Landry, with the player’s name removed:
“We can’t hope to have as good a defense without _________. But we think we can offset his absence in several ways. We can improve our pass rush to take some pressure off the secondary, and we can offset it with our own offense. If ________ can bring our offense up from eighth (in the NFL) to about fourth…and he’ll have to bring it up that much to be value received…then we’re a contender.”
(1) Who was the player?
(2) Did this player play offense or defense in 1966?
From the files of “I wasn’t born until 1971, so I would have no memory of this…”
The article that contained the quote above in 1966 also had the cartoon below.
The NFL and AFL had announced the proposed merger of the league on June 8, 1966, and this agreement explains part of this cartoon. What I did not understand was the reference to the United States Football League. After all, the USFL did not exist until 1982, or so I thought.
It turns out that during the summer of 1966, former Notre Dame football coach Frank Leahy announced that a group of well-financed businessmen were going to form a 10-team league called the United States Football League. A person who figured prominently in the planning was a Dallas investor named Chester L. Brewer, who was the son of a former head coach at Michigan State.
At the time of the announcement, Leahy said the owners were willing to pay big money for top talent, which could have led to more bidding wars. That was the point of the cartoon.
In August, the league announced that Brewer had been awarded a franchise, but it would be based in New Orleans. Other cities to have franchises would have been Philadelphia, Washington, Los Angeles, Atlana, Oakland, Pittsburgh, and Akron. The league was supposed to announced additional franchises in the fall of 1966, with league play scheduled to begin in the spring of 1967.
The last reference I could find to this league appeared in late August 1966. Leahy had resigned as commissioner, but league sources said the league would still begin in the spring. Obviously, it never happened.
Brewer was later convicted of securities and mail fraud and sentenced to 15 years in federal prison.
Below are five facts about the 2016 draft class for the Cowboys.
- Jaylon Smith (2nd round) is the first Notre Dame linebacker the Cowboys have ever selected in the draft. He is the tenth Notre Dame player the Cowboys have ever taken in the draft and the first since guard Zack Martin in the first round of the 2014 draft.
- Maliek Collins is the second defensive lineman from Nebraska to have been selected by the Cowboys. The only other was Danny Noonan in 1987.
- Charles Tapper is likewise the second defensive lineman from Oklahoma taken by the Cowboys in a draft. The first was Dave Hudgens (3rd round, 1978), who never played a down in the NFL. The Cowboys did have former Sooner Tony Casillas on the line in the 1990s, but he was a free agent signing.
- Dak Prescott is the first quarterback selected by Dallas since 2009 (Stephen McGee, 4th round) and only the fifth since since Jerry Jones bought the Cowboys in 1989 (not counting Isaiah Stanback in 2007, given that he was immediately converted to receiver). The five quarterbacks: Troy Aikman (1989), Bill Musgrave (1991), Quincy Carter (2001), McGee (2009), and Prescott.
- By comparison, Rico Gathers is the 17th tight end taken by Dallas since 1989. Incidentally, selecting a college basketball player in the NFL draft is not unprecedented in the history of the Cowboys. In 1967, Dallas selected Pat Riley from Kentucky in the 11th round of the draft. Unlike Gathers, Riley played both basketball and football at Kentucky before playing professional basketball.
Lots of debate over the Cowboys’ selection of Ezekiel Elliott as the #4 overall pick. At least one person (well, more than that) was happy:
A fair question is how the Cowboys will distribute carries between Elliott, Darren McFadden, and Alfred Morris. This kind of looks like the Eagles’ backfield last year, and we know that didn’t work well.
No secret now that the Cowboys used the #4 overall pick to take Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott.
Earlier in the day, it appeared that the Chargers might take Florida State defensive back Jalen Ramsey. This would have all but guaranteed that Dallas would take Elliott.
The Chargers instead took Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa, so there was some suspense when the Cowboys were on the board.
Dallas decided to pair Elliott with one of the best offensive lines in football. Ramsey went to Jacksonville at #5.
A few facts:
- Elliott is the sixth running back taken by Dallas in the first round of a draft. He is the first since the Cowboys took Felix Jones with the #22 overall pick in 2008.
- Among the six running backs previously taken by Dallas in the first round, Elliott was taken second highest. The highest pick used for a running back was #2 to draft Tony Dorsett in the first round of the 1977 draft.
- Elliott was the 12th player taken by Dallas from Ohio State and the first since the Cowboys took Bobby Carpenter wit the #18 pick in 2006.
- Previous Ohio State running backs (and fullbacks) taken by Dallas in the draft include Ron Springs (1979), Nicky Sualua (1997), Michael Wiley (2000), and Jamar Martin (2002).
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.