Mind of Sabol: Tom Landry

Dallas Cowboys, Helen Modesett, Mind of Sabol, New York Giants

By Helen Modesett

Editor’s Note: In this installment of “Mind of Sabol,” we take a closer look at Tom Landry, the storied former coach with both the New York Giants and the Dallas Cowboys.  Please let us know what you think about Steve’s famous card catalog by leaving a comment below or tweeting @NFLFilms with #MindofSabol.

During his twenty-nine seasons with the Dallas Cowboys, legendary head coach Tom Landry lead the team to two Super Bowl wins (VI, XII), five NFC titles, thirteen divisional titles and twenty consecutive winning seasons. He left his mark not only in the record books, but also in the way the game is played, including the invention of the now well-known 4-3 defense. Through Steve’s notes, we learn more about Landry as a character, as well as his work ethic and his leadership skills that shaped him into the coach that history knows today.

Prior to becoming a popular NFL coach, Landry spent time playing cornerback for the New York Giants.

This picture of Tom Landry on Nov. 5, 1958 defensive coach of the New York Giants, This picture was made in December, 1954, when he played in the defensive backfield of the Giants, and is latest available close-up on Landry. (AP Photo)

Tom Landry on Nov. 5, 1958 when he played on the defensive back field of the New York Giants.

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When he made the transition from player to coach in 1955, his position on the team was not the only thing to change.

photoUnderlined section: “Fans who remembered him from that era were surprised when his coaching style with the Cowboys became cerebral and unemotional because emotion was his big thing as a player.”

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“My feelings? About 10 years ago, I hid them somewhere and haven’t been able to find them”– Landry

Beset by injuries to key members of his team, Tom Landry, coach of the Dallas Cowboys, reflects this mood as the players ran though drills on Sept. 10, 1967 in Dallas following their 33-7 loss to the Baltimore Colts in an exhibition game last Saturday. The Cowboys, NFL Eastern Division champions last year, open the 1967 league play Sunday against the Cleveland Browns. (AP Photo/SS)

Beset by injuries to key members of his team, Tom Landry, coach of the Dallas Cowboys, reflects this mood as the players ran though drills.

While many coaches reverted to yelling at their players in frustration both during the game and practice, Landry had a different way of handling things.

photo“Had a way of getting things done, not by shouts or threats but by a certain steadiness of pressure.”

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Underlined section: “Some of you are professionals, others are amateurs drawing pay.”

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“He is a patient and tolerant man, but in his own way a tough leader.”

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“For Landry it is not important that others understand him, only that he understand himself. So long as others respect what he does it suits him just as well if they occasionally are left shaking their heads…Looked like regional director of FBI…World according to Landry.”

Dallas Cowboys head coach Tom Landry directs his players through a final work-out in Dallas, Texas, on Dec. 24, 1971. The Cowboys leave for Minnesota and the play-off game with the Vikings. (AP Photo)

Dallas Cowboys head coach Tom Landry directs his players through a final work-out in Dallas, Texas, on Dec. 24, 1971.

The Cowboys where a powerhouse while Landry was coach. They where especially known for their strong finishes. This can be attributed to his slogan.

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Underlined section: “Feel ’em out in the first quarter, establish yourself in the second, take command in the third, and put ’em away in the fourth, became Landry’s slogan among the players.”

Dallas Cowboys head coach Tom Landry rides on the shoulders of his players after the Cowboys defeated the Denver Broncos 27-10 in Super Bowl XII, Jan. 15, 1978, in New Orleans. Wide receiver Butch Johnson (86) had a 45-yard fingertip catch for one of the Cowboys three touchdowns, while eight turnovers sealed the Broncos fate. (AP Photo)

Dallas Cowboys head coach Tom Landry rides on the shoulders of his players after the Cowboys defeated the Denver Broncos 27-10 in Super Bowl XII, Jan. 15, 1978, in New Orleans.

photo“Passionate about winning, but he is considered by his pears to be one of the most ethical and principled men in pro sports. Driven and single-minded but honorable and responsible as well.” 

Coach Tom Landry of the Dallas Cowboys poses at the team's training camp in Thousand Oaks, Calif., July 24, 1969. With him are quarterback Craig Morton, right and rookie quarterback Roger Staubach. It has been four years since Staubach, 27, played big time football. Now he's making a belated try at the NFL and says he planned it that way. (AP Photo/David F. Smith)

Coach Tom Landry of the Dallas Cowboys poses at the team’s training camp in Thousand Oaks, Calif., July 24, 1969. With him are quarterback Craig Morton, right and rookie quarterback Roger Staubach.

 

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