b. Sept. 11, 1924, Mission, TX
d. Feb. 12, 2000
One of the most successful coaches in NFL history, Landry played quarterback and fullback at the University of Texas after serving in the Army Air Corps in World War II. He co-captained the team as a senior in 1948.
Landry became a defensive back and punter for the New York Yankees of the All-America Football Conference in 1949. The AAFC folded after that season and the Yankees moved into the NFL. In compensation for having their territory invaded, the New York Giants were allowed to select five players from the Yankee roster, and Landry was one of them.
He played for the Giants through 1955. An All-Pro in 1954, Landry had 31 career interceptions and punted 389 times for a 40.9 average. He served as an assistant coach during his last two seasons as a player and became the Giants' defensive coach in 1956.
When the Dallas Cowboys entered the NFL as an expansion team in 1960, Landry was named head coach. He coached the Cowboys through the 1988 season, compiling a 250-162-6 record in regular season play and winning 20 of 36 in playoff competition. Landry guided the Cowboys to five Super Bowls, a record, winning two of them. During his 29 years, Dallas won 14 division championships and had 21 consecutive winning seasons.
Landry developed the "flex defense," in which one tackle plays slightly off the line of scrimmage in order to read and react to the offensive play. He also pioneered in bringing the shotgun formation back into the offense on passing downs after it had been developed and then abandoned by the San Francisco 49ers.
He was named National Football Conference coach of the year in 1975. Unfortunately, he suffered three losing seasons in a row, from 1986 through 1988, and was summarily replaced by Jimmy Johnson, formerly of the University of Miami, when Jerry Jones bought the team before the 1989 season.