Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Texas Tidbits : Thomas Wade Landry

Any football fan worth his salt knows the name of the first coach of the Dallas Cowboys. The word "legend" is over-used on most occasions, but Tom Landry is a Legend, with a capital "L". He is the third winningest coach in NFL history with 270 lifetime wins, 2 Super Bowl Titles, 13 Division Titles, 20 consecutive winning seasons, an NFL record that may never be broken, a record 20 playoff wins and two Coach of the Year Awards. The man was a star player for the New York Giants and before that was a defensive stand out for the University of Texas. To bestow
"Legend" status on Tom Landry simply because of his achievements in football would be insulting to a great man off the field as well. Landry joined the Army Air Forces in World War II and as tells us,"Landry earned his wings and a commission as a Second Lieutenant at Lubbock Army Air Field, and was assigned to the 493d Bombardment Group at RAF Debach, England, as a B-17 Flying Fortress bomber co-pilot in the 860th Bomb Squadron. From November 1944 to April 1945, he completed a combat tour of 30 missions, and survived a crash landing in Belgium after his bomber ran out of fuel." Thomas Wade Landry was a True Texan, a man forged of a hotter fire. He was also a devout Christian and was a not ashamed to say so when asked about it, but he was not one to push his religious beliefs on others. Coach Landry demanded excellence and dedication from his players and coaching staff, but he also demanded the same, if not more, of himself. The stoic man you see in the photo above is of a Coach who not only set records in the NFL, but left a lasting impression on many of the men who played for him as well as just plain old folks who came into contact with him in daily life. Quick story : my sister wanted to give her then-husband a special gift for his birthday one year, an autographed football from the Dallas Cowboys. She called the Cowboys' office in Dallas and set up an appointment. When she got there, she was invited into Coach Landry's office, where he talked to her for a few minutes then handed her an NFL football signed by the Dallas Cowboy players and Coach Tom Landry. That's the Tom Landry I know about. And before you get the idea that I am a fanboi  of the Cowboys, stop right there. I am 54 years old and have been a Green Bay Packers fan for almost 50 years.I salute Tom Landry not as a Coach, but as a Man. A good, decent man of Faith. Football is secondary considering the Man.

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All Original Material © Toby Shoemaker