Gil Brandt finally has his day. The long-time Cowboys executive was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and was presented for the award by Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. Brandt helped revolutionize pro football with his innovative scouting and player personnel ideas that led to a dynasty.
Gil Brandt was a highly-regarded personnel administrator during his 29-year career with the Dallas Cowboys (1960-1988). Brandt, the vice president of player personnel for the Cowboys, helped Dallas grow into one of the most powerful and popular sports franchises in America. His innovative management and personnel systems are standard operating procedure today.
It was Brandt’s eye for talent and the scouting systems he put in place that helped transform the Cowboys from an expansion team in 1960 into “America’s Team” just seven seasons later. The Cowboys put together 20 consecutive winning seasons (1966-1985), appeared in five Super Bowls including victories in two (Super Bowls VI and XII) during his tenure.
Brandt oversaw the drafting of nine Cowboys’ players who are now enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame beginning with Dallas’s first ever pick in 1960, defensive tackle Bob Lilly, and culminating with his final first-round pick in 1989, quarterback Troy Aikman. That list also includes a pair of seventh-round selections in tackle Rayfield Wright and receiver Bob Hayes and a 10th round draft choice in quarterback Roger Staubach.
Brandt was the first one to use computers for scouting and talent evaluations, the first one to use psychological tests to evaluate the mental makeup under pressure. It was the way he and the Cowboys graded college prospects that led to building the NFL Scouting Combine to streamline the evaluation process. The event has now grown into a three-day production ahead of the annual NFL Draft.
Here is a brief overview of his acceptance speech.
Great honor to be here in Canton Ohio.
Recognize my family, with all the travel in the industry you had to have a supportive family.
Thanks to the HoF voters. Thanks to Jerry Jones for presenting me, thanks for putting me in the Ring of Honor. The entire Jones family have built the Cowboys into an incredible franchise. Jerry was a great leader in the NFL growth.
Recognize three legends who aren’t here any more. First Clint Murchison. His vision in 1960 of what a pro football team should look like led to one of the greatest franchises.
Tex Schramm was a visionary and innovator, helped lead the dynamic growth of the league. Instant replay, Thanksgiving Day games and the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders. His network background led to all kinds of innovations.
Another legend is Tom Landry. 270 wins, 2 Super Bowls, 20 straight winning seasons. Plus his innovations like the flex defense, shotgun, situation substitution. What made him great was his character and how he treated people.
What made it successful were the Cowboys players. Extremely proud the Cowboys helped me get in on the ground floor of scouting historical black colleges. Scouted players like Jethro Pugh, Rayfield Wright, Bob Hayes and Nate Newton. Thomas Henderson, so proud of the demons he has overcame after 35 years of sobriety.
Grateful for being on the cutting edge of personnel decisions. Basketball players like Cornell Green. Tony Fritsch from Austira was a soccer style kicker. Also undrafted free agents like Drew Pearson, Cliff Harris, Bill Bates, Dave Edwards and Everson Walls.
Discussed his friendships with guys like Bill Parcells and Mike Shanahan.
Thanked guys like Lee Roy Jordan, Charlie Waters, his last two first-round picks Troy Aikman and Michael Irvin. Also, Bob Lilly and Mel Renfro.
Discussed how people were skeptical of the use of computers in scouting. Fulfilling that so many of the traits we identified back then are still used by some of the greatest coaches in the games history.
Thanks the scouts out there, they are the lifeblood of the game.
If you want to read more of his speech, you should check out this Twitter thread.
Congrats Gil Brandt. You truly are a Cowboys legend and an NFL legend. No one deserves tonight’s honor more than you.