A reader named Bruce Lombard earlier this year most generously sent me a stack of copies of the old Dallas Cowboys Official Weekly from the 1985 season and 1986 offseason. Each Wednesday, we will take a look at some interesting tidbits in these issues.
The focus this week is in the issue published on December 28, 1985.
Ask Tex Schramm: Stealing Hand Signals
A growing trend among college and NFL teams in the 1980s was to send in plays through use of hand signals. A reader asked Tex Schramm about whether the opposing team could steal these hand signals. Tex replied that though teams had tried it, it was difficult to relay information to the defense in a timely manner. Moreover, he found that teams that tried to focus on stealing signs didn’t focus enough on playing football.
Cowboys Fall Apart at San Francisco
At one point, the Cowboys led the San Francisco 49ers 13-0 and nearly made it 20-0 in the first half. However, the team barely played after that, and the 49ers outscored Dallas 31-3 in the final two and a half quarters. The Cowboys rested several starters, including QB Danny White, receiver Tony Hill, and lineman Jim Cooper.
With the loss, Dallas was set to travel to Los Angeles to face the Rams in the divisional round of the playoffs.
Top Ten NFL Poll: Dallas Finishes 7th
The Cowboys remained among the top 10 NFL teams for most of the 1985 season, and with the loss the 49ers, the team finished ranked 7th. The Rams were one spot ahead.
Biggest Problem with No. 3 QBs: Frustration
Third-string QB Steve Pelleur helped the Cowboys to win the NFC East by leading the team on a touchdown drive in the fourth quarter of the team’s win over the Giants.
Up to that point, most of the team’s third-string QBs had been “lost souls.” These players included the likes of Sonny Gibbs, John Roach, Bob Belden, and Glenn Carano. A few others, including Don Meredith, Roger Staubach, and Gary Hogeboom, were listed as the #3 QBs but later became backups and then starters.
Most of these third-stringers said the same thing about their time on the team: it was frustrating, which partially explains why few lasted long.
Some Question Whether Landry Would Retire
Frank Luska ran a piece pondering whether Tom Landry would retire, especially if the team won the Super Bowl. According to Landry, “People say, ‘Surely you want to go out on top and win another Super Bowl.’ No, that’s not it. When I go, I’ll go regardless of where I am.”
(For the record, he was playing golf three years later when told he was let go).