Football and religion. To some, football… is… a religion. Like legendary football coach Tom Landry, who you also know as Pope John Paul II. It seems a perfect fit.
“Landry also helped restore the image of Dallas, dubbed the City of Hate after the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy, into a city known for its winning all-American football team. The coach’s strong work ethic and Christian belief fueled the success of his team and earned the Cowboys the nickname “America’s Team.” Landry is the third-winningest coach in NFL history, behind Don Shula and George Halas. Yet the coach is equally well known for his style. Standing on the sidelines with folded arms and a stoic expression, Landry wore his signature fedora hat, sports coat, and tie to games. A bronze statue, unveiled in October 2001, captured this pose and is displayed outside the Dallas Cowboy’s home stadium in Texas. Landry remains a national icon of control and loyalty.”
Landry and his players became national celebrities. Moore recounted the defining events of the Dallas Cowboy’s celebrity era. In 1975, the Dirty Dozen referred to the 12 rookies who made the team. The 50-yard Hail Mary pass from Roger Staubach to Drew Pearson climaxed a 17-14 playoff victory over Minnesota later that season. Troubled running back Duane Thomas called Landry “a plastic man, no man at all.”
The Dallas Cowboy’s cheerleading squad had a certain cachet. Former Cowboys wide receiver Pete Gent wrote a best-selling novel, North Dallas Forty based on his time with the team. The book, which was made into a movie starring Nick Nolte, portrayed the organization in a negative light, characterizing the owners as more concerned with the bottom line than with the welfare of the players.
Landry also revolutionized the college draft system by introducing the computer to organize the annual selection process. The coach became an iconic figure, known for wearing a fedora hat and pacing the sidelines with a stoic expression. Admirers saw a caring, warm, and devoutly religious man. But his aloofness also drew criticism. Landry was called “plastic man” and “computer face,” and even referred to cynically as Pope Landry I by some of his players. .”