TOM LANDRY: An Autobiography by Tom with Gregg Lewis Landry
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TOM LANDRY: An Autobiography

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You might think that the only coach the Dallas Cowboys ever had until last season would provide some original insights on a professional football franchise accomplished and appealing enough to be called America's Team. You would be wrong. Landry--whose clubs were noted (during their heyday) for flashy offenses, the flex defense, and winning records--offers a resolutely low-key, albeit generally upbeat, account of his life, including a 29-year stint as steward of The Big D's gridiron fortunes. He's equally subdued, almost laconic, about his world-class status as a born-again Christian. A high-school football star from the Rio Grande Valley, Landry played for the Univ. of Texas after returning from WW II. Drafted by the pros, the author spent six years as a defensive back and punter with the New York Giants during the 1950's subsequently becoming an assistant coach. Named head coach of the NFL's new franchise in Dallas, he guided the expansion team to a 0-11-1 record in 1960, its first season. The Cowboys began making the playoffs in the mid-1960's, and the club won two of the five Super Bowls in which it appeared as TV made a national icon of of the hat-wearing coach who paced the sidelines without apparent emotion. After 20 straight winning seasons, however, the club came a cropper in 1986 and continued to lose. Fired by Jerry Jones (who bought the team early in 1989), Landry remains an admired, even revered, figure in Dallas and elsewhere. Sustained, he insists, by his faith and family, he now divides his time between religious work (e.g., for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes) and commercial enterprises. In looking back on his long career, though, the author shares precious little beyond well-known facts and generally accepted fictions. His comments on such competitors as Don Meredith and Roger Staubach, for example, verge on the banal. Nor does Landry tackle touchy subjects like drug abuse, adversarial labor relations, and disabling injuries, let alone the imperfections of a front-office crew (Clint Murchison, Gil Brandt, Tex Schramm, et al.) whose sinful ways were the stuff of tabloid dreams. The final scores: a see-no, evil success story that seems much too good to be true. And while the author's bland reminiscences are not without interest for die-hard sports fans, Skip Bayless furnishes wider, angled perspectives on the reality of a gritty, highstakes trade in his tougher-minded and more entertaining God's Coach (reviewed above).

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1990
Publisher: Zondervan/Harper & Row