As part of the SilverandBlueBlood.com Top Ten Top Ten Lists, I present for your amusement, argumentation, and amendment the top ten Dallas Cowboys non-players of all time. This would include coaches, management, ownership, and all other non-player personnel.
Plenty of men have played a role in team history and then gone on to make their real mark on the world in other places. In compiling this list, I concerned myself solely with the impact a person had on the Dallas Cowboys.
And now for the list:
10. Norv Turner, Offensive Coordinator (1989 – 1993). Head Coach Jimmy Johnson was the motivational and organizational leader of the team that would become a dynasty. Norv Turner was the X’s and O’s man. He was the steady hand at the wheel of an offense that was both remarkably simple and simply remarkable. Troy Aikman credits Turner with helping to mold him into the successful Hall of Fame quarterback he became. Norv Turner is the only assistant coach to make this top ten list…and he deserves to be here.
9. Stephen Jones, Executive Vice President (1989 – Present). Stephen has been credited with getting in Jerry’s ear about cutting ties with Terrell Owens. As he takes on a larger role and higher profile, Cowboys fans can at least take consolation in the fact that he is lucid. Where Jerry often engages in crazy talk no one can quite follow, Stephen is well-spoken and thoughtful in his communication. Stephen is involved heavily in the negotiation of player contracts and the management of the salary cap.
8. Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders (1972 – Present). The brainchild of Tex Schramm, this is the most recognizable group of its kind in the world. They had a TV movie made about them in 1978 that received a 48% share in its time slot. They have toured the United States and overseas, performing for soldiers for the USO.
7. Barry Switzer, Head Coach (1994-1997) – Many see Switzer as a bumbling buffoon and a blight on the history of the franchise. Fans, still bitter over the departure of Jimmy Johnson while the team was at its zenith, saw the Switzer hiring
as insult added to injury. Switzer was the antithesis of Johnson. Jimmy was a manipulative, mind-game playing, whip-cracking motivator. Switzer was a relaxed, laissez-faire coach who believed that the players, if not interfered with too much, would perform. They were men and he intended to treat them as such. Truthfully, Johnson’s approach was better suited to a young, inexperienced team. As the players gained experience and matured, the games he played would inevitably become less effective. Switzer may well have been a mistake, but he is one of only three coaches in team history to coach a Super Bowl winning team, and the only coach besides Johnson to win both an NCAA championship and a Super Bowl. Barry may well have been, as Jones once intimated, “one of five hundred” coaches who could have coached that particular team to a Super Bowl. but he is the one who did it. Besides, you have to love a guy who is so relaxed he is seen eating a hot dog on the sidelines while coaching in the Pro Bowl.
6. Gil Brandt, Vice President of Player Personnel (1960-1988). Brandt revolutionized the way NFL teams scouted and found players. He was the first to use computer analysis on prospects. He found prospects in small colleges, playing basketball, and running track. Cliff Harris, Drew Pearson, and Everson Walls were some of his undrafted, free agent triumphs. Brandt stood alongside Schramm and Landry as one of the architects of America’s Team.
5. Jerry Jones, Owner/General Manager (1989 – Present). Perhaps no NFL owner is more maligned than Jerry Jones. Fans of his team hate him with as much fervor (albeit for different reasons) as those who despise the Cowboys. Local media types have consistently called for him to fire himself as GM of the team, some going so far as to challenge him to do so in interviews. He did not endear himself to the Metroplex when, shortly after acquiring the team, he unceremoniously fired the city’s greatest icon, Coach Tom Landry. For all of his misfires, missteps, and miserable attempts at expressing himself, the man did oversee the resurrection of a franchise that had plummeted to the hard rock bottom of the NFL. He helped construct the first NFL team to win three Super Bowls in four years. While most pundits reserve all the credit for that accomplishment for Jimmy Johnson, that hardly seems fair. If not for Jones, Johnson would never have been given the opportunity to do the things he did.
4. Clint Murchison, Owner (1960 – 1984). Murchison was the antithesis of Jerry Jones. He was the ultimate non-meddling owner. He hired football men, gave them long contracts, and let them do their jobs. The result was twenty straight winning seasons from 1966-1985, five Super Bowl appearance, and two wins. The only gripe any fan would have about Murchison is that, when he sold the team, he sold it to a bum…Bum Bright.
3. Jimmy Johnson, Head Coach (1989 – 1994). Jimmy took over a franchise in decline. The whole thing bottomed out in his first year, when the team posted only one win. He had just one player on that team with superstar status: the
great Herschel Walker. He and Jones knew they needed much more than one aging star to put the team back on track, so they traded the running back to the Minnesota Vikings. It was the biggest trade in NFL history, and a coup for the Cowboys. Emmitt Smith, Darren Woodson, and other key pieces of the Cowboys soon-to-be-Super Bowl team became part of the haul from the Walker trade. Johnson became the first coach to win both an NCAA championship and a Super Bowl. He won back-to-back Super Bowls and was set to make a run at a third. The relationship between Johnson and Jones, however, had deteriorated to the point that Jimmy ended up accepting a buy-out and walking away from the team he had helped to build. Most people blamed Jones for the loss of Jimmy. There was, in fact, plenty of blame to go around. Nonetheless, Jimmy had forever made his mark on the franchise and the league, and established his legendary status.
2. Tex Schramm, Team President/General Manager (1960 – 1989). During his reign over the Cowboys’ organization, Schramm was widely recognized as one of the NFL’s most powerful GMs. He had carte blanche from owner Murchison
to operate the club, including voting on behalf of the organization at league meetings. Schramm hired Landry. Schramm envisioned and brought to reality the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. Schramm aided in the negotiation of the merger between the AFL and NFL. Schramm was the chief influence behind the rookie combine as it is known today. A bigger than life figure with one of the all-time great names in pro football history, Schramm was ultimately slighted an honor he greatly deserved. As the founder of the Ring of Honor and, for twenty-nine years, its one-man election committee, Tex was himself denied induction due to a strained relationship with new Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. In fact, Texas E. Schramm was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame before he was inducted into the Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor. Finally, in 2003, Jones decided to put Schramm in, but the great architect of America’s Team died before his induction.
1. Tom Landry, Head Coach (1960-1989). Hardly anything need be said here. Any legitimate list of top five coaches
in NFL history would have the name of Tom Landry on it. His 29-year tenure is surpassed only by George Halas. His 270 career wins is third all-time. His team posted an unprecedented twenty consecutive winning seasons. He coached the Cowboys to five Super Bowls, winning two of them. He was the architect of the Flex defense and the Mutliple offense. He revived the Shotgun. Tom Landry is not only the greatest icon of the Dallas Cowboys; he is the greatest icon in the city’s history. No politician, no businessman, no athlete or celebrity ranks above the man Roger Staubach affectionately dubbed “The Man in the Funny Hat.”