Former GM honored despite friction with Jones

Updated: October 12, 2003, 4:01 PM ET
Associated Press

IRVING, Texas -- Nearly 20 years after Tex Schramm dreamed up the Ring of Honor as a way to honor great Dallas Cowboys, his signature is finally on his work.

The Cowboys added Schramm's name to the Texas Stadium Ring of Honor on Sunday, honoring him for 30 years of work as the team's first president and general manager.

"His contributions to the NFL are really unsurpassed," Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said while inducting Schramm during a ceremony at halftime of the Dallas-Philadelphia game attended by all living members of the ring but the reclusive Don Meredith. "What he did for the Dallas Cowboys and this franchise in 29 years, with his passion, will always be remembered."

Jones then presented a large silver bowl to Schramm's daughters Christi Wilkenson and Kandy Court.

"To Jerry Jones, thank you for putting a perfect ending on our father's legacy," Wilkenson said.

During 29 years in charge of the Cowboys, Schramm and coach Tom Landry produced 20 straight winning seasons, 18 playoff appearances, 13 division titles, five Super Bowl appearances and two NFL titles.

He is the 12th member of the Ring of Honor, joining Bob Hayes, Randy White, Mel Renfro, Chuck Howley, Meredith, Bob Lilly, Don Perkins, Roger Staubach, Lee Roy Jordan, Tom Landry and Tony Dorsett.

Schramm's name was unveiled to the right of Dorsett's, just above the lower-level seats behind the end zone near the tunnel to the Cowboys' locker room.

While the players in the ring have their jersey numbers and years with the team beside their names and Landry has a fedora, Schramm's name has the Cowboys' blue star logo that he helped popularize. His name has the years 1959-1989 next to it, symbolizing his work before the Cowboys' expansion season in 1960.

Despite contributions to the Cowboys and to the NFL as a 25-year member of the powerful competition committee, his induction was never a sure thing because of a strained relationship with Jones.

Schramm left the team in 1989, shortly after Jones bought it and fired Landry. But Jones and Schramm made up in April, and Jones decided Schramm belongs in the ring. Schramm died in July at age 83.

"I never gave up hope," Schramm said at an emotional news conference announcing his selection. "Things that should happen to people that deserve them usually do happen."

Schramm oversaw the Cowboys' rise from expansion team to "America's Team," a nickname he didn't invent but didn't mind promoting.

Schramm helped popularize the Cowboys' logo through innovative promotions such as a Thanksgiving home game and using professional dancers as cheerleaders. He also put together expansive radio networks in English and Spanish that reached about 240 stations.

He invented the Ring of Honor in 1975, when Lilly was the first Cowboy to enter. Schramm, the sole member of the ring's selection committee, added Meredith and Perkins the next year.

While running the competition committee, Schramm oversaw numerous rules changes, including overtime in the regular season, the wild-card playoff format, radios in quarterback helmets, goalposts at the back of the end zone instead of the front and protecting quarterbacks through the in-the-grasp rule.

Schramm negotiated the merger with the AFL and was a trusted adviser to longtime commissioner Pete Rozelle. He became the first executive in the Pro Football Hall of Fame 12 years ago.


Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press