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Tom Landry

From Academic Kids

Thomas Wade Landry (born September 11, 1924 in Mission, Texas - died February 12, 2000 in Dallas, Texas) was an American football player and coach.

Landry attended the University of Texas at Austin but interrupted his education to serve in the U.S. Army Air Force during WW II. He returned to Texas and played fullback and defensive back on Longhorns bowl winners in 1948 and 1949.

He became a defensive back in the National Football League for on 1949 for the New York Yanks, then moved in 1950 to the New York Giants. In 1954 he was selected as all-pro. He played through the 1955 season, and acted as a player-assistant coach in 1954-1955. Landry ended his playing career with 31 interceptions in only 70 games, almost 1 every 2 games.

Landry then became the Defensive Coordinator, opposite Vince Lombardi as Offensive Coordinator, with the Giants where he led one of the best defensive teams in the league from 1956 to 1959. The two coaches created a fanatical loyalty within the unit they coached that drove the Giants to successive NFL championships.

In 1960 he became the first head coach of the Dallas Cowboys and stayed for 29 years (1960-88). During this run he won 2 Super Bowls (1972,78); and is 3rd on the NFL all-time coaching wins list with 270. Tom Landry invented the "Flex Defense", when coaching in New York. It has been said that after he invented the flex defense, he then invented the offense to score on it, reviving the man-in-motion and the shotgun formation.

He was known as a quiet, religious man unfazed by the hype that surrounded the Cowboys, then being billed as "America's Team".

Landry's departure came shortly after the Cowboys were sold to Jerry Jones before the 1989 season. Jones hired Jimmy Johnson, his former teammate at the University of Arkansas, away from the world of college football. Landry's uncermonious dismissal by Jones was lamented by football fans and media as lacking class and respect. Landry was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1990. His 21 career playoff victories are the most of any coach in NFL history.

On his passing, Tom Landry was interred in the Sparkman-Hillcrest Memorial Park Cemetery in Dallas, Texas. The Cowboys wore a patch on their uniforms during the 2000 season depicting Landry's trademark fedora. A bronze statue of Landry stands outside of Texas Stadium.

The section of Interstate 30 between Dallas and Fort Worth was named after Landry by the Texas Legislature in 2001.

In King of the Hill, a TV show, the local middle school is named after Tom Landry, and Landry is a personal hero of the show's main character Hank Hill.

Tom Landry football cards can be found at Dallas Cowboys football cards (http://www.cowboycards.com)

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