TEX SCHRAMM – THE MAN WHO BUILT THE DALLAS COWBOYS
If it wasn’t for Texas Earnest Schramm Jr, an American Football executive, the ‘Dallas Cowboys’ would not have been what it is today. From a little-known expansion team in Dallas, it has grown in prominence over the years to an influential franchise of the National Football League (NFL) and metamorphosed into ‘America’s team’ through Schramm’s sheer efforts and strategies.
Tex Schramm Jr was its president and general manager.
What makes Schramm’s story more alluring was that he was the only football executive who never owned or coached a team to be elected to the Professional Football Hall of Fame.
To begin his story, after serving in the US Air Force, he joined ‘Los Angeles Rams’ an NFL team as its public relations director in 1947 and climbing up the ladder he ended up as its general manager.
Things took an exciting turn when Clint Murchison Jr. who had tried to bring the NFL to Dallas several times in the past hired Schramm as the general manager of a potential Dallas team, which became a reality on January 28, 1960.
Within no time, Schramm along with head coach Tom Landry and chief scout Gil Brandt had built the Cowboys into an elite team. Under his meticulous watch, the Cowboys came out in flying colours. They had 20 consecutive winning seasons and appeared in five Super Bowls, winning two.
Schramm was known as the most powerful general manager in the NFL. During his tenure, the Cowboys’ owners largely left the day-to-day operations in his hands. Schramm represented the Cowboys at league meetings and exercised the team’s voting rights, something normally reserved for team owners.
Another twist in the tale was his meeting with Lamar Hunt, the founder of the American Football League (AFL), the rival league of the National Football League (NFL). This led to the 1970 merger of the NFL and AFL and also created the Championship game that would become the first Super Bowl in 1967.
Schramm advocated many changes and innovations that helped modernize the NFL. These include instant replay, using computer technology in scouting, multi-colour striping of the 20- and 50-yard lines, 30-second clock between plays, extra-wide sideline borders, wind direction stripes on the goal post uprights, the referee’s microphone, headsets in the quarterback’s helmet for hearing plays, and the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders.
While leading the league’s Competition Committee from 1966 – 1988, he oversaw the rule changes such as using overtime in the regular season, putting the official time on the scoreboard, moving goalposts from the front of the end zone to the back, and protecting quarterbacks through the in-the-grasp rule.