There are myths. There are legends. And then there is Tom Landry.
Landry, BBA ’46, started his UT career as an industrial engineer major, but his college career was interrupted by WWII. Landry was inspired to join the armed forces in honor of his brother Robert, who died while ferrying a B-17 over to England. From November 1944 to April 1945, Landry completed a combat tour of 30 missions, and survived a crash landing in Belgium after his bomber ran out of fuel.
On the football team, he played fullback and defensive back on the Texas Longhorns’ bowl game winners on New Year’s Day of 1948 and 1949. He was a member of the Texas Cowboys and Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity (Omega Chi chapter). He received his bachelor’s degree from UT in 1949.
He started his coaching career with the New York Giants. In 1954, Landry became the defensive coordinator; the offensive coordinator for The Giants just happened to be Vince Lombardi.
In 1960, he became the head coach of the new team, The Dallas Cowboys. He went on to coach The Dallas Cowboys for a record-setting 29 years.
Landry’s highlight reel includes:
- He invented the now popular 4–3 defense, and the “flex defense” system.
- He won two Super Bowl titles (VI, XII), five NFC titles, 13 Divisional titles, and compiled a 270-178-6 record, the third-most wins all-time for an NFL coach.
- He was named the NFL Coach of the Year in 1966 and the NFC Coach of the Year in 1975.
- His most impressive professional accomplishment is his 20 consecutive winning seasons (1966–1985), an NFL record that remains unbroken and unchallenged.
- From 1966 to 1982, Dallas played in 12 NFL or NFC Championship games, a span of 17 years. More impressive is the Cowboys’ appearance in 10 NFC Championship games in the 13-year span from 1970 to 1982.
So, what about the hat…
Long before career prep was a thing, Landry was thinking of his future potential in business even while being an assistant coach with the New York Giants. Landry began wearing a fedora on the sidelines not just because it was cold in New York, but because he was also planning to go into the insurance business after his coaching career (so he thought). He thought it would be best to look as business-like as possible while on the sideline, to impress possible future employers or customers.
He never did end up selling insurance. He became a legendary leader instead.
Sounds like he put his BBA to good work.
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