Behind The Scenes of “NFL Films Drawn,” with The Man Who Named ‘America’s Team’

Behind the Scenes, Dallas Cowboys, NFL Films Drawn

CLICK ON THE CARTOON LADY TO WATCH “NFL FILMS DRAWN: People Are Funny Critters”

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By Bob Ryan, Former NFL Films Editor-in-Chief

When I named the Cowboys “America’s Team” in the title of their 1978 highlight film, the inspiration was the legion of Dallas fans who I constantly observed in the NFL Films footage that was shot at Cowboys road games.  From coast to coast, they came out in greater support of their team than perhaps any other fan base in sports.  But if one thing about the Cowboys could rival the number of their fans, it was the number of their stars — and I don’t just mean the ones on their helmets.

“Bullet” Bob Hayes ; “Captain America” Roger Staubach, “Hollywood” Henderson ; Randy “The Manster” White.  No filmmaker could invent the kind of real life talent and charisma that the Cowboys featured over the years, including one man, Walt Garrison, who was so perfectly cast in Dallas that he quickly became known as “The Cowboy’s Cowboy.”  He was a native Texan who spent all 9 of his NFL seasons as a lovable but hard nosed running back for the Cowboys.  Of Garrison, “Dandy” Don Meredith once told me, “If you need 4 yards and you give the ball to Walt, he’ll get you 4 yards.  If you need 20 yards and you give the ball to Walt, he’ll get you 4 yards.”  Meredith was kidding but also accurate, as Garrison averaged 4.3 yards per carry for his career.

He won a Super Bowl ring with Dallas in 1971, and shortly thereafter came to the attention of NFL Films for, among other things, his passion for “steer rasslin’.”  We shot many times with Garrison, and in 1984, Steve Sabol captured an iconic interview with him that became the central element of a short profile film that I directed for our features show “NFL Pro Magazine” (watch it below).  It was in that interview that we first heard Garrison spin his famous campfire yarn “People Are Funny Critters” that now, three decades later, inspired the season finale of NFL Films Drawn (above).

CLICK ON THE MAN IN THE HAT TO WATCH BOB RYAN’S 1984 PROFILE “WALT GARRISON: THE COWBOY’S COWBOY”

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“NFL Films Drawn” is Produced by Chris Weaver and Paul Camarata ; Animation by Patrick Smith ; Sound Design by Mike Kennedy ; Project Management by Becky Lambert ; Online Editing by Jonas Landau

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