Man in the top hat

Updated: December 31, 2003, 3:31 PM ET
By Mike Puma | Special to ESPN.com

Signature Game

Jan. 16, 1972 - After several dominant seasons, coach Tom Landry's Dallas Cowboys finally won the big one, dominating the Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl VI in New Orleans.

A year earlier, the Cowboys had lost to the Baltimore Colts in the Super Bowl on a last-second field goal. This followed two losses in the 1960s to the Green Bay Packers for the NFL championship.

"We were all determined nobody would stop us," Landry said. Landry's strategy was to run the ball by neutralizing Dolphins middle linebacker Nick Buoniconti. The Cowboys set a Super Bowl record with 252 yards rushing in their 24-3 victory.

"We ran extremely well, and I've always felt if you can run on a team, you can beat that team," Landry said. "A lot of our success came as a result of handling Buoniconti." Landry's postgame press conference was interrupted by a telephone call. It came from President Nixon. "He praised our offensive line," Landry said.

Odds' n' Ends

Landry led Mission High School to a regional championship in his senior year when it outscored its opponents 322-7.

Landry's brother Robert was killed in World War II.

After graduating from Texas, Landry earned an engineering degree from Houston.

In 1952 with the Giants, Landry punted 82 times (41-yard average) in 12 games. He also led the team with eight interceptions.

In his six years playing for New York, Landry made 31 interceptions and averaged 40.9 yards punting.

His highest salary as a player was $15,000.

Landry's only non-loss with Dallas in its 0-11-1 season in 1960 was a 31-31 tie against the Giants in the next-to-last game.

After going 12-2 in 1968, the Cowboys were upset 31-20 by the Cleveland Browns in the Eastern Conference championship game.

During the Cowboys' 20 straight winning seasons, Landry coached five Hall of Famers and 36 Pro Bowl players.

Only Don Shula (347) and George Halas (324) won more games than Landry (270).

Landry's teams were 250-162-6 in the regular season and 20-16 in the playoffs.

Landry tied Curly Lambeau's record by coaching the same team for 29 straight seasons. Lambeau coached the Packers from 1921-49.

In 1980, California Lutheran University established the Landry Medal, awarded to the person who has distinguished himself in his profession and serves as an inspiration to American youth.

In 1984, Mission High School dedicated Tom Landry Stadium.

Landry appeared in an American Express commercial in the 1980s.

In July 1987, Landry signed his last contract with the Cowboys, a three-year extension.

Landry's last victory came on Dec. 11, 1988, when the Cowboys defeated the Redskins, 24-17, at RFK Stadium.

Landry was notorious for forgetting his own players' names.

Roger Staubach gave Landry's induction speech at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1990.

The Tom Landry Sports Medicine and Research Center at Baylor University Medical Center was dedicated in 1991.

Landry celebrated his 70th birthday in 1994 with a party at Texas Stadium that included more than 2,000 fans, former players and celebrities.

In 1995, Landry was the pilot of a single-engine Cessna that made an emergency landing behind a high school. Landry and his three passengers, all family members, were uninjured.

Landry and his wife Alicia had two daughters and a son. In 1995, their daughter Lisa succumbed to liver cancer at 37.

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