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Cowboys Midsummer Madness, Championship Game: Roger Staubach vs. Tom Landry

After 62 days of Cowboys vs. Cowboys skirmishes, Midsummer Madness has reached its final contest! Today’s Championship Game features Roger Staubach facing off against Tom Landry. Who will cut down the nets and reign supreme as the “Best” Cowboy of them all?

And then there was one. We began our Midsummer Madness tourney back in late May; now, after 62 contests in which 62 of this franchise's most excellent players have been eliminated, we are down to our final match-up. And its the one most of have predicted all along: Captain America versus The Fedora; the greatest player in franchise history going up against his stolid yet wildly innovative head coach; the two symbols of the franchise's excellence, character, and core values. Which iconic figure will prevail and proudly wear the crown as the "best" Cowboy in the franchise's storied and glorious history? You know the drill, folks: read the bios and comments, check out the videos and then make your determination.

And may the "best" Cowboy win!

Wanna keep tabs on the state of the bracket or look ahead to future contests? All the Midsummer Madness info you could ever want can be found right here.


Player: Roger Staubach

Position: quarterback

Seed: 1

How he got here: defeated Eugene Lockhart, 671-22; defeated Cliff Harris, 676-23; defeated Jason Witten, 641-185; defeated Michael Irvin, 694-147; defeated Randy White, 825-208


Name Years Career AV Pro Bowls All-Pro RoH HoF
Roger Thomas Staubach

Bio: A 10th-round "futures" draft pick in the 1964 Draft, Staubach, who attended the Naval Academy, joined the team in 1969 after fulfilling his military commitment. After backing up and sharing time with Craig Morton for two plus seasons, Staubach took over the starting role for good midway through the 1971 season, leading the team to ten straight wins, including its first Super Bowl victory (where he won MVP honors, becoming the first Heisman Trophy winner to be a Super Bowl MVP). Later that decade, "Roger the Dodger" led the Cowboys to a second Super Bowl victory and two other appearances in the Big Game (both agonizing losses to the Steelers).

Staubach had several nicknames; he was was known as "Roger The Dodger" for his scrambling abilities (in his career he made innumerable scrambles to buy time for a receiver to get open, and also carried the ball 410 times for 2,264 yards. Staubach was also known as "Captain America," as quarterback of "America's Team"; from 1971-'79, the Cowboys won an astonishing 95 games with him at the helm, and never won fewer than eight games in a season. And, finally, he was known as "Captain Comeback" due to his penchant for leading the Cowboys to improbable victories. In his career, Staubach led the Cowboys to 23 game-winning drives (15 comebacks) in the fourth quarter, with 17 of those in the final two minutes or in overtime, the most famous of which was the "Hail Mary" pass in a divisional round playoff game against the Vikings in 1975.

Staubach retired as the NFL's highest-rated passer of all time (when we subtract Otto Graham's AAFC numbers); he was the NFL's top-rated passer four separate seasons, each of which he also led the league in adjusted yards per attempt, finished with a .750 career winning percentage, and six Pro Bowl invitations. He played on five Super Bowl teams, four as the primary signal-caller, and twice took home a Lombardi. Staubach was a member of the NFL's All-Decade team for the 1970s, and, in 1999, was ranked 29th on The Sporting News list of the 100 Greatest Football Players, the second-ranked Cowboy behind Bob Lilly. In 2010, a Dallas Morning News poll selected him as the greatest Cowboy of all time. Staubach was inducted into the Cowboys' Ring of Honor in 1983 and elected to the Hall of Fame in 1985.


And the highlights from his final regular season game, the great 35-34 "double comeback" against the Redskins:

Other videos:

The segment from Roger Staubach: A Football Life entitled "Captain America"

Staubach profile from NFL Network's "Top Ten Clutch Quarterbacks" (they have him at #4)

Member comments:

Member Comment

Staubach is one of the greatest QB's of all time

He is inexplicably not mentioned when people discuss the top quarterbacks of all time, and it’s really sad.

2 SB wins – more than Peyton Manning, Brett Favre, Dan Marino – who’s names are constantly brought up
Highest Rated Passer when he retired – Higher than Unitas, Bradshaw

Not to mention, he put the Cowboys on the map. He had a flair for the dramatic, and in my mind, the greatest Cowboy ever.

#ThrowUpTheX My pick to win it all, Captain America himself.

Watching those Staubach highlights gave me a lump in my throat

And a swelling in my chest. No other player in the world does that to me.


Player: Tom Landry

Position: head coach

Seed: 1

How he got here: defeated John Fitzgerald, 802-15; defeated Calvin Hill 597-13; defeated Bob Hayes, 565-52; defeated Troy Aikman, 727-174; defeated Bob Lilly, 628-218


Name Years Career AV Pro Bowls All-Pro RoH HoF
Thomas Wade Landry

Bio: In 1960, Landry was hired to be the expansion Cowboys first head coach. The expansion team started inauspiciously, sporting an 0–11–1 record during their first season and five or fewer wins in each year from 1961-64. Despite the team's early struggles, owner Clint Murchison Jr. gave Landry a 10-year extension in 1964 - a move that proved to be inspired. The Cowboys improved to a 7–7 record in 1965 and, in 1966, they surprised the NFL by posting 10 wins and making it all the way to the NFL Championship game, where they fell to the Packers. The 1966 season began a streak of 20 consecutive winning seasons, an NFL record.

Landry proceeded to coach the Cowboys for 29 consecutive years, an NFL record. In that time frame, Landry compiled a 270-178-6 record, the third-most all-time, and led the Cowboys to thirteen division titles, five NFC titles and two Super Bowl wins. From 1966-'82, a span of 17 years, Dallas played in 12 NFL or NFC Championship games; in the 13-year span from 1970 to 1982, Landry's teams played in 10 NFC Championship games. As these number suggest, his 20 career playoff victories are the second most of any coach in NFL history. Landry was named the NFL Coach of the Year in 1966 and the NFC Coach of the Year in 1975.

As impressive as his record is the long list of his innovations. Landry invented the 4-3 defense, along with the use of "keys" for players to react to the flow of a play. To stop the Packers' famed power sweep, he later refined the 4-3 defense by "flexing" two of the four linemen off the line of scrimmage to improve pursuit angles. In Landry's "Flex" defense, each defender was responsible for a given gap area, and was told to stay in that area before he knew where the play was going. On offense, he revived old single-wing concepts like motion, the shotgun, and multiple pre-snap shifts, including the famed "up-and-down" offensive line shift designed  to make it more difficult for defenders to see where the backs were shifting, thus cutting down on recognition time.

He also was the first coach to develop a strength and conditioning program and to introduce the notion of "quality control"; watching extensive film to chart opponent's tendencies so that the Cowboys could be better prepared. Working closely with Tex Schramm and Gil Brandt, Landry helped to revolutionize scouting, both in terms of how players were evaluated and graded and where they looked for talent. The Cowboys were one of the first teams to draft players from small schools and HBCUs and to target athletes from other sports. He was elected into the Hall of Fame in 1990 and inducted into the Ring of Honor in 1993.


And this segment from "A Football Life" on Landry's mythic status is required watching.

And a commercial:

Member comments:

Member Comment
krl97a Landry did more to shape the NFL than any other coach or player in the last 60 years. He is the greatest Dallas Cowboy of all time.

I remember John Madden and Hank Stram talking about Landry after they had retired and he was still coaching.

They were talking about how stressful being an NFL coach is and both of them had to walk away. At the same time they marveled at how Landry was not only able to continue to coach but do it well without appearing to be affected by the stress and strain that caused the both of them to retire. All you have to do is look at Landry’s resume´ do see how his experiences prepared him to be the coach of the Dallas Cowboys, World War II bomber pilot, NFL Cornerback, NFL Defensive Coordinator, and Head Coach. As we talk today about how hard it is for a head coach to be a coordinator, Landry was in actuality all three. At the same time he was a great innovator and reshaped the modern game on both sides of the ball.

There all all of the other stories but my favorite is Thomas "Hollywood" Henderson telling how Landry continued to keep in touch with him after he was cut and how supportive Landry was as he worked to get his life together.

BigHat in NewTexas

I can still remember seeing the man in the hat when I was a kid

the first time I saw the COWBOYS coach it became really obvious that this team was ‘home’.

Alright, BTBers, who takes home the hardware?

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