THE DALLAS COWBOYS. THE EARLY YEARS.
The Dallas Cowboys struggled to win games during
their first six years of existence in the NFL, but by the end of their first
decade, they had risen to the top of league.
The Cowboys joined the National Football League on January 28, 1960, when the NFL granted a franchise to Clint Murchison, Jr., the majority owner, and Bedford Wynne.
One month earlier, Tom Landry had been signed to a personal services contract and, once the NFL franchise had been awarded, Landry was named as the Cowboys’ head coach. He served in that position for 29 years. Tex Schramm was hired as the team's general manager and Gil Brandt as the director of player personnel. To help build their roster, the Dallas Cowboys were allowed to pick three players from each of the 12 NFL teams in March, 1960.
The Dallas Cowboys suffered five straight losing seasons before finally breaking even in their sixth year. Their seventh year brought the Cowboys their first winning season and began a streak of 20 consecutive winning seasons, a record which is still unmatched in the NFL.
WHEN YOU THINK OF DALLAS QBs, YOU THINK OF THEM
The NFL franchise known as the Dallas Cowboys is now 50 years old. During those 50 seasons, there have been 12 starting quarterbacks. This article will concentrate primarily on the seven starters who became well known while at the QB helm of the Cowboys. They are Eddie LeBaron, Don Meredith, Craig Morton, Roger Staubach, Danny White, Troy Aikman, and Tony Romo. The other starters down through the years either gained prominence elsewhere before joining the Cowboys, or never really achieved great success anywhere. They are Vinny Testeverde, Drew Bledsoe, Steve Pelleur, Quincy Carter and Chad Hutchinson. When you think of Testeverde and Bledsoe, you don’t think of them wearing the helmet with the lone star.
Although my emphasis is on Dallas starting quarterbacks, this article would not be complete without my covering the unforgettable non-starter named Clint Longley.
The 1960 expansion Cowboys were led by the diminutive and gutsy Eddie LeBaron. The team was terrible, and LeBaron had little talent to work with. But LeBaron gave this terrible team all he had at 5’-9” and 168 lbs, stats I believe were a bit exaggerated.
Don Meredith was there in 1960 as well. Meredith followed LeBaron as starting QB of the Cowboys. He was a fearless competitor with tremendous talent; don’t let that down-home drawl fool ya. Meredith led the Cowboys to their first winning record and playoff appearance in 1966. Make no mistake about the fact that Don Meredith possessed great clutch ability. The talent around him at the time prevented Meredith from accomplishing much more than he did. Add to this the fact that no quarterback has ever played through more pain and injuries than did Meredith. (Monday Night Football was at its all-time best when the odd couple, Meredith and Howard Cosell, teamed with Frank Gifford.)
Craig Morton followed. A quality QB, he had a long and distinguished NFL career over 18 years with three teams.
Roger Staubach, my favorite NFL player of all time, became an iconic legend as QB of the Cowboys, leading them to four Super Bowls, two of which he won. His NFL career was cut short by his required years in the United States Navy following graduation from the Naval Academy. If a game could be won, Roger found a way to do it. Staubach is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Danny White followed. White passed for lots of yards, but never a Super Bowl win.
Troy Aikman took the Cowboys to the Super Bowl three times, winning all three. A pure pocket passer, his release and precision passing were not rivaled during his NFL tenure. Aikman is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Tony Romo is now in the Cowboys saddle. Lots of passing yards. Big arm. That’s it so far.
All things considered, there’s only one thing that counts when evaluating the performance of a quarterback, and that one and only thing is winning titles. In order to do that, obviously, that QB has to win big games along the way to take his team to the title game. And to do all of this, that QB must possess the talent of performing in the clutch. I call clutch the “it factor” in competition. The latter cannot be taught; either the confidence to produce a winner under adverse circumstances is there, or it isn’t. To be sure, this “it factor” is possessed by the very small minority in all walks of life, and certainly not just sports.
Of the seven Cowboys quarterbacks noted above, only two wear Super Bowl rings, namely Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman. They were clutch! Staubach and Aikman epitomized star status level, the “it factor” level, during their careers in Dallas.
Two quarterbacks in Cowboys history, Eddie LeBaron and Craig Morton, did not have the clutch capability. They were good, very good, but they were incapable of reaching the “it factor” level. In all fairness to LeBaron, he was the expansion Cowboys’ first starting QB 50 years ago, so his supporting cast paled greatly by comparison. Some expected Morton to be labeled clutch on a repetitive basis, but it simply wasn’t there.
Danny White rang up big passing numbers with Dallas. But invariably, when clutch time arrived, he fell short. I do believe that no QB who ever played for Tom Landry frustrated the legendary coach more than Danny White. That statement is merely conjecture on my part. We’ll never know.
Now there’s the present and the future, Tony Romo. I refer to Romo as the second coming of Danny White. Romo has spent his time in a Cowboys uniform running up big numbers, and ultimately frustrating his following mercilessly when the chips went all in. A perfect example of it, although not a quarterback failure, was the snap he fumbled in the 2006 playoffs (1-6-07) while holding for a field goal attempt of just 19 yards by Martin Gramatica with a minute left. Instead of a gimme Cowboys win, the Seattle victory was preserved, 21-20. It was clutch time, and Romo blew the snap. No “it factor.”
Despite shades of brilliance from time to time in 2009, including December wins and a playoff victory that eluded him in the past, Romo’s poor judgment forces me to state that Dallas will never win a Super Bowl with Tony Romo at QB. (Sorry Melissa. Don’t be mad at me. For your sake, I hope I'm wrong.)
Then there’s another guy you think of when you think of Cowboys QB’s. He is the very “infamous” Clint Longley, and although not a starter, his Cowboys story should be told in this article as it is interesting (and I need to fill space). He played two back-up seasons for the Dallas Cowboys (1974 & 1975). Talk about going from the sublime to the ridiculous for this rattlesnake hunter (that’s correct; that’s exactly what Longley did as a hobby), read on.
Longley is best remembered for his performance in the Thanksgiving Day game in 1974 as the Cowboys went against the Washington Redskins. Filling in for an injured Roger Staubach, Longley, then a rookie, threw two touchdown passes including the game winning 50-yarder to Drew Pearson with less than a minute remaining.
Unfortunately for Longley, the story doesn't end there. Less than two years later Longley, under pressure from Danny White for the back-up QB role, left the Cowboys in disgrace after he landed a blindside punch on Staubach during training camp in Thousand Oaks, California. The publicized "sucker punch" occurred after Longley and Staubach had fought over a negative remark Longley made about Roger to fellow Cowboy teammates. Staubach was putting on his shoulder pads on the last day of training camp when Longley hit him in the face without warning and from behind, requiring several stitches to close the wound on Staubach's face. Longley was immediately traded to the San Diego Chargers where he finished his career with little success.
To be sure, it’s been an interesting pro football half-century in Dallas.
COWBOYS STADIUM. THE FIRST WONDER OF THE WORLD.
Cowboys Stadium is a domed stadium with a retractable roof in Arlington, Texas. It serves as the home of the National Football League's Dallas Cowboys. It replaced the partially-covered Texas Stadium, which opened in 1971, and served as the Cowboys' home through the 2008 season. It was completed on May 27, 2009. The stadium seats 80,000, making it the 3rd largest stadium in the NFL by seating capacity. (More about attendance later in this article.)
The stadium is the largest domed stadium in the world, has the world's largest column-free interior and the largest high definition video screen which hangs from 20 yard line to 20 yard line. The facility can also be used for a variety of other activities outside of its main purpose, Cowboys football, such as concerts, religious ceremonies, championship fights, basketball games, college football and high school football contests, soccer matches, motor cross races and rodeos similar to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.
A highlight of Cowboys Stadium is its gigantic center-hung high-definition television screen, the largest in the world, sometimes referred to as "Jerry-Tron". The 160-by-72-foot (49 by 22 m), 175-foot (53.34m) diagonal, 11,520-square-foot (1,070 m2), scoreboard surpasses the 8,736 sq ft (812 m2) screen that opened in 2009 at the renovated Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri as the world's largest.
The screens were developed by Mitsubishi's Diamond Vision Systems. Each center-hung sideline display consists of 10,584,064 LEDs, consuming some 635,000 watts. Because each pixel consists of four LEDs (2 red, 1 green, 1 blue), the 2,176 X 4,864 LED distribution corresponds to a 1,088 X 2,432 pixel resolution, the equivalent of 1080p. However the image can actually be considerably sharper than the resolution suggests, because Diamond Vision's "Dynamic Pixel" technology allows the corner LEDs of four neighboring pixel clusters to function as a pixel cluster together, providing virtual pixels between each physical pixel. (I have no clue as to what any of this means, but it’s impressive.)
Guinness World Records was on hand at the September 28, 2009 game against the Carolina Panthers to award certificates to the Chairman of Mitsubishi Electric and Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones for the World's Largest High-Definition Video Display.
For basketball events played in Cowboys Stadium, such as the 2010 NBA All-Star Game, the video board is actually larger than the court itself.
If J. R. Ewing were still alive, the amoral oil baron and Ewing Oil would own the grandest luxury box in the joint.
P.S. The record crowd attending the 2010 NBA All-Star Game at Cowboys Stadium on February 14th. was 108,713 fans, the most ever for a basketball game. The new record shattered the previous basketball record by 30,584 fans. The Cowboys Stadium crowd also surpassed the record for an American professional sports event; 105,121 were at Cowboys Stadium last year for the Dallas Cowboys-New York Giants 2009 NFL regular season opener.