tex-schramm-and-tom-landryTexas Earnest “Tex” Schramm, Jr. (June 2, 1920 – July 15, 2003) was the original president and general manager of the National Football League’s Dallas Cowboys franchise. Schramm became the head of the Cowboys when the former expansion team started operations in 1960. Despite his name, Schramm was not born in Texas, but in San Gabriel, California. Texas was his father’s name and where his parents met. Schramm attended Alhambra High School and went to the University of Texas, graduating in 1947 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. At UT he was a member of Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity, as was his father, and was a sports writer and editor for The Daily Texan. Schramm interrupted his education to serve as an officer in the United States Army Air Forces during World War II.

Before joining the Cowboys, Schramm was part of the Los Angeles Rams from 1947 to 1956. During his tenure, he hired Pete Rozelle as the Rams’ public relations director; Rozelle later became one of the most important commissioners in the history of the NFL. They remained close friends after Rozelle became NFL commissioner and Schramm became general manager of the Cowboys (each holding their position for 29 years).

Dallas Cowboys

In late 1959, when it became apparent that the NFL was intent on expanding to Dallas, Schramm told his friends in football that he was interested in running the team. Chicago Bears owner George Halas introduced Schramm to Clint Murchison, Jr., who had tried to bring the NFL to Dallas several times in the past. Murchison hired Schramm as the general manager for a potential Dallas team, which became a reality when the league awarded a team to the city on January 28, 1960.

In 1960, Schramm hired head coach Tom Landry and chief scout Gil Brandt. By the mid 1960s, the three men had built the Cowboys into an elite team. The Cowboys had 20 consecutive winning seasons, and were the winningest NFL team of the 1970s. They appeared in five Super Bowls that decade, winning Super Bowls VI and XII, and losing Super Bowls V, X, and XIII by a combined 11 points. The Cowboys became a marquee NFL franchise, their popularity inspiring the nickname “America’s Team”.

Schramm was known as the most powerful general manager in the NFL. The Cowboys’ owners during his tenure, Murchison (1960–84) and H.R. “Bum” Bright (1984–1988), largely left day-to-day operations in his hands. Schramm held the Cowboys’ voting right at league meetings, a right normally reserved for team owners.

In 1966, Schramm met secretly with American Football League (AFL) founder Lamar Hunt to begin the negotiations that led to the 1970 merger of the NFL and AFL, as well as the first Super Bowl in 1967.

Innovations

Schramm was also known for innovations that helped redefine the modern NFL. These include instant replay, using computer technology in scouting, multi-color striping of the 20- and 50-yard lines, 30-second clock between plays, extra-wide sideline borders, wind-direction stripes on the goal post uprights, the referee’s microphone, and the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. While leading the league’s Competition Committee, he oversaw rule changes such as using overtime in the regular season, putting the official time on the scoreboard, moving goalposts from the front of the end zone to the back, and protecting quarterbacks through the in-the-grasp rule. Schramm’s desire for a more comprehensive scouting combine led to the annual offseason NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. Tex Schramm was simply one of the most influential figures in NFL history.