Tom Landry, The Greatest And Most Innovative NFL Coach

“The will to prepare is more important than the will to succeed.” - Tom Landry

Tom Landry died and took with him a celebrated life full of prestige and thousands of Americans who respected him lost their hero. Before he became one of the greatest coaches in the National Football League, he was, first and foremost, a football player.  A football player who loved the sport, and appreciated the people who appreciated his love for it. 

Tom spent an overall of 29 years as the coach of the Dallas Cowboys, and had led them to victory for 20 consecutive seasons—a record in NFL that will take quite a long time to be broken. Through the duration of his career, Landry also won 13 Divisional titles, 5 National Football Conference titles, and 2 Super Bowl titles. 

These are no simple feats—and it takes a great man to achieve all of these. Get to know how Tom Landry managed to turn the world right at the palm of his hand, and how you too, can do the same.

tom landryHe was a legend in the NFL. Coaching for 29 years for Dallas Cowboys and enjoying 20 consecutive winning seasons! A feat hard to duplicate today.

The Early Life of Tom

Tom was born on September 11, 1924 in Mission, Texas. He had 3 other siblings, and he was the 2nd in a brood of 4. His father, though also an athlete, suffered from severe bouts of rheumatism, which was what made him decide to move to Texas, which had a warmer climate. Tom would get his athleticism from his father, and he would continue on all throughout high school as a football player, playing quarterback for his school in Mission.  In his senior season, he led his team to victory, with a 12-0 record. 

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Love For Family

Tom was close to his parents and family, and one of the reasons why he chose to enroll at the University of Texas in Austin was because he wanted to remain close to his hometown. He thought of going to the Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas, but it would be too far, and he didn't want his mom and dad to travel a long distance just to watch him play college football.


During World War II, he enlisted to join the armed forces, interrupting his education for a whole semester. His main inspiration was his brother Robert, who died while on duty, when his plane went down somewhere in the North Atlantic. 

He became a bomber for the United States Army Air Corps, and completed 30 missions on a combat tour, surviving a crash landing after his plane ran out of fuel.

Flying Colors

Upon his return to the University of Texas, Tom continued to play for the school football team as fullback as well as defensive back. He was also a member of the prestigious Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity and graduated in 1949 with his bachelor's degree from UT. 3 years after that, he enrolled at the University of Houston to earn his Master's degree in Industrial Engineering.

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Professional Career

The first contract Tom signed up for was with the Yankees, for $6,000 in 1949. He was also given a signing bonus of $500, which he used to pay for his wedding with Alicia, his girlfriend since high school.

He played as punter for the Yankees, and he did very well. As the Yankees were not absorbed into the NFL, the New York Giants took the liberty in choosing Landry in the next draft. This was also where he would experience his first try in coaching, explaining the 6-1-4 defense in front of the whole team. 

Tom became the defensive coordinator for the team in 1954, and in 1960 he, finally became the head coach, and would remain to be that way until 1988. 

He was considered to be one of the most brilliant football innovators of all time, having invented the “4-3 defense,” among others. He was also the one who started using keys to analyze offensive activities, and a whole lot more after that. 

The Best There Is

Landry was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1990, and was also inducted into the Ring of Honor 3 years after. He died of leukemia, but boy did he put up a fight before succumbing to the disease in 2000. 

  • Like Tom Landry, when you know you're good at something, do everything you can to become better.
  • Never be too afraid to learn new things. You'll never be too old for that.
  • Commit yourself to every endeavor and always do the right thing.

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"If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants." Isaac Newton

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