Contrary to rumors that have made the rounds over the years, former Dallas Cowboys’ general manager Tex Schramm did not introduce the first group of professional cheerleaders to theNFL, and he didn’t think up the “America’s Team” title for the 1978 highlight film.
The old Baltimore Colts were the first to put professional cheerleaders on the sidelines, and NFL Films created what remains the Cowboys’ unofficial team slogan after “Champions Die Hard” was rejected by Schramm and late coach Tom Landry.
Now that we’ve gotten that bit of housecleaning out of the way, it’s safe to say that Schramm, who died Tuesday, had a hand in just about everything else that helped the NFL pass Major League Baseball in the 1980s and become the nation’s favorite professional sports league.
In retrospect, Schramm’s stated goals were modest when he became president and general manager of the expansion Cowboys in 1960. He wanted to make Dallas a model organization off the field, a champion on it, and he wanted to do it in a way where everybody connected with the franchise felt he or she had played a role.
He, along with Landry and personnel director Gil Brandt, did all of that. But, during his 22-year stint as chairman of the important NFL Competition Committee, he was influential in painting the face of the game that is enjoyed today.
Instant replay? That was his creation, as was the 30-second clock between plays, radio helmets and even the wind-direction ribbons on goal posts. He was the first to use computers to analyze college talent, but the league took notice in 1978 when the computer told him to take little-known defensive tackle Larry Cole of Hawaii in the 16th round. Cole was a starter for most of his 13 seasons.
— Warner Hessler, The Daily News “Schramm helped make NFL what it is”