I had the pleasure of recently meeting Larry Cole at a luncheon in Decatur, Texas. Cole played defensive end and defensive tackle for the Cowboys from 1968 through 1980. He played in five Super Bowls, winning two of them. He was drafted in the 16th-round and wore the star his entire career. He played for one coach, Tom Landry.
Today, Larry is a very successful real estate developer in the DFW area and the CEO of Larry Cole Communities. He's tall, thinner than his playing days, but I can imagine how big and imposing he was with pads and at his playing weight.
He's a very gracious man and still is a big Cowboys fan. When I introduced myself and asked him if he still followed the Cowboys, his passion for the team and the game was evident. I wondered if he would be willing to give me some insights into his days as an original member of the Doomsday Defense and share his perspective on the current Dallas Cowboys. I asked if he would answer 10 questions, (I snuck in an extra) he agreed, and the Q&A results follow the jump.
Larry, thank you for taking time to speak with BTB and thanks for the great Cowboy memories!
1) What are your most vivid memories of Coach Landry?
Winning the first Super Bowl (VI). Rayfield Wright and I lifted him on our shoulders. He had that "ear to ear" grin. He had been through so many frustrating end of seasons that this got the "monkey off his back".
2) You played in 5 Super Bowls, winning two of them. Do you have a favorite Super Bowl story?
The night before Super Bowl VI my Mom and Dad took me and my Godparents out to dinner. I decided that I wanted to try something different for dinner. I ordered quail. I got two of them but they were only the size of an egg. When we left I was still hungry so we stopped at McDonalds so I could eat more. I had a good game as the whole team did. I recovered a Larry Csonka fumble and helped Bob Lilly tackle Bob Griese for a 29 yard loss that seemed to demoralize their team after that. So "I had it my way" by eating at McDonalds!"
3) Who gave you the nickname Bubba? Why?
Dave Edwards, outside linebacker, was the master of giving nicknames. He started this one. It wasn't Bubba, but was "Bubber Frank". I had to have two names in Texas. I think I got it because I played the left side at defensive end, which is the strong side for offenses. We had to stuff more of the running plays on our side. He played next to me and we were kind of the "stumps" to shut down the run.
4) Tony Romo is criticized for not being a leader. What advice would you give him?
Talk to Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman. It is my understanding that he did spend time with Troy. He reminded me a little of Don Meredith who wanted to win, but didn't want it bad enough. I think dumping Jessica, at least until the end of the season, was good for him. He is handling himself very well this year. Not having to deal with T.O.'s personality is a plus at his age. I think Troy could have handled T.O.
5) When Landry devised the ‘flex' defense, how did it effect opposing offenses?
It was designed to stop the Green Bay Packer power sweep and trap series. It absolutely shut it down when executed properly. Once offenses changed to short passing it wasn't as effective. Landry abandoned it his last year of coaching and did a 3-4 defense, the same as coached by Wade Phillips.
6) Who was the meanest guy in the league during your era?
Conrad Dobler. He was a nasty player who stretched the rules and literally bit Jethro Pugh on his calf muscle. Dobler was a great competitor with limited talent. Dick Butkus was the other but he also played defense same as me so I didn't play against him.
7) If you were Wade Philips, what changes would you make to the current Cowboys team?
I like what he has done this year. I still have a lot of confidence in Jason Garrett. His father was a good football man. Jason was one of the ball boys in training camp. Other than that keep Felix Jones healthy!
8) Do you have a favorite Cowboy player? Past and present?
Bob Lilly is like a big brother to me. He has been and still is very supportive of anything I do. I learned the pro game from him. Demarcus Ware is such an awesome athlete and seems to be a good person off the field.
9) How has the game changed since you played?
Yes. In my day they took big bodies and made the best football player and athlete out of him. Now they take a fullback with good agility and footwork and make a defensive lineman out of him. These kids start playing, running and weight lighting when they are in junior high. I would love to take the 1971 team and morph into the bodies of these guys. We were more focused and disciplined and were more hungry since we didn't make enough money. Making the playoffs meant adding up to 40% more salary.
10) In your career you had three interceptions and one fumble returned for touchdowns. You must have been pretty fast for a big man, do you think Bob Hayes was concerned you might give him a challenge?
Not hardly! Two of the runs were over 40 yards. I felt like I was running on a treadmill! It took forever to get to the endzone.
11) Have you had a chance to see the new stadium? What do you think?
Yes, I went to the Ribbon Cutting. It is awesome! it is big, but not gaudy. I love the plazas at the end of the end zones. There are 6 levels. It's kind of like TCU's plaza where you can get out of your seat and mingle and keep up with the game. You can easily see the whole field in the endzone. It just feels right.