Tex Schramm
1920-2003
Tex Schramm, the innovative showman who helped build the Dallas Cowboys into "America's Team'' and was instrumental in the NFL's evolution and popularity, died July 15th, at his home in Dallas. He was 83.

"The NFL family has lost one of its giants,'' NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue said. "Tex Schramm was one of the visionary leaders in sports history -- a thinker, doer, innovator and winner with few equals.''

Tex Schramm was born in San Gabriel, California, where his football-playing days ended after high school. The 147-pound fullback opted for a journalism degree from the University of Texas and became a sports writer after a stint in the Air Force.

Before being hired by Cowboys founder Clint Murchison in 1960 to run the expansion team, Schramm worked for the Los Angeles Rams from 1947-56. He worked his way up from publicity director to general manager, and then became an executive for CBS-TV Sports.
While with the Rams, he hired future NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle as publicity director.

At CBS, Schramm learned the intricacies of wedding football and television, a marriage that has brought the league billions of dollars. He orchestrated the first TV broadcast of the Winter Olympics, and hired Pat Summerall to broadcast New York Giants football games.

Tex Schramm was 39 when Murchison, a prominent Texas oilman, hired him to start an expansion team that had yet to be approved by the NFL.

Tex Schramm hired Tom Landry as the Cowboys' first coach and was with the team for the first 29 seasons. Although opposite personalities, their "business relationship'' -- as Schramm called it -- produced 20 straight winning seasons, 18 playoff appearances, 13 division titles and five Super Bowl appearances.

Dallas didn't win a game its first season, then when high hopes fizzled in 1963, there were rumblings that a coaching change was needed. Schramm got Landry a 10-year contract instead.
The Cowboys went on to win division titles in 1966 and '67, leading to memorable playoff losses to the Green Bay Packers, including the Ice Bowl. They finally won Super Bowls after the 1971 and 1977 seasons.

The Cowboys didn't win a game its first season, then when high hopes fizzled in 1963, there were rumblings that a coaching change was needed. Schramm got Landry a 10-year contract instead.

The Cowboys went on to win division titles in 1966 and '67, leading to memorable playoff losses to the Green Bay Packers, including the Ice Bowl. They finally won Super Bowls after the 1971 and 1977 seasons.

When the tide turned in the 1980s, owner Bum Bright wanted Landry fired. Schramm refused. Schramm was with Jones when Landry was fired in February 1989, but two months later he announced his resignation at the meeting during which the sale of the team was approved. He was elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, two years later.

Schramm, who  gave Pete Rozelle his first job in pro football, remained a strong influence after Rozelle became commissioner in 1960. Schramm also was a significant force in the AFL-NFL merger in 1966 and the original chairman of the league's competition committee, a position he held from 1966-88.

Without playing a down, Schramm did as much as anyone to shape today's NFL.
"I truly believe he had as much, or more to do with the success of professional football as anyone who has ever been connected with the league,'' said Hall of Famer Don Shula, the league's winningest coach and Schramm's longtime colleague on the powerful NFL competition committee.

While on the committee, Schramm, first proposed Instant replay, sideline radios in quarterback helmets and starting the play clock immediately after the previous play. He also suggested changes to the field that made following the game easier, like wide sideline borders and wind-direction strips dangling atop goalpost uprights.

Tex Schramm also promoted the idea of a 6-division, wild card playoff concept and introduced the world to the Cowboys' cheerleaders. The nickname "America's Team'' wasn't originally his, but he was the one who popularized it.

"Tex was the ultimate football-minded man,'' said Hall of Famer Bob Lilly, the Cowboys first draft pick. "He loved the game and he had a flair about him of show business.''

Tex Schramm's marketing genius helped turn the Cowboys into one of the world's most-recognized teams. An early success was in 1966, when he volunteered to host a second NFL game on Thanksgiving Day. The Cowboys hosted the Cleveland Browns in the Cotton Bowl that Thursday, drawing the largest crowd in franchise history (80,259)."Above everything else, Tex was a great guy, a person who could make you laugh, and appreciate the moment,'' said Baltimore Ravens owner Art Modell, who as the Browns owner agreed to play that '66 game.

In 1972, Schramm decided to entertain fans with professional dancers rather than high school cheerleaders. The seven-member squad forever changed the sidelines. Schramm also developed the largest radio network any sports team ever had, as Cowboys games were broadcast on 225 stations in 19 states, plus a Spanish-speaking network with 16 stations in seven states and Mexico.

Tex Schramm was also highly involved in labor battles. After the 1966 merger, Schramm was called upon to negotiate a settlement with the players' union. He wound up with a then-unprecedented four-year agreement. When players went on strike in 1987, Schramm was one of the leading forces for using replacement players. "Once the players saw the league could go on without them, that was the end of the strike,'' Schramm later said. There hasn't been another strike in the NFL.

"He was a competitor and loved to argue, but he had a lot of class and you always knew he was trying to do what was best for the NFL,'' said Gene Upshaw, executive director of the NFL Players
Association.

After leaving the Cowboys, Tex Schramm's strained relationship with Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones led to him being the team's only Hall of Famer not inducted into the club's Ring of Honor. In April 2002, Jones decided the man who created the Ring should be in it. Schramm was going to become the 12th member this fall, joining 11 players he had brought to the Cowboys.

"I never gave up hope,'' Schramm, said at a news conference announcing his selection, as his eyes filling with tears. "Things that should happen to people that deserve them, usually do happen.'' Jerry Jones said having Schramm's name on the facade of the upper deck at Texas Stadium ensures "his spirit will be honored for years to come.'' "This organization and its fans will forever be the beneficiaries of Tex Schramm's spirit and vision -- his passion and creativity,'' Jones said

Tex Schramm's death comes just seven moths after the passing of his wife Marty, who died in December.
Source: ESPN.com

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