Publish date:

The First Cowboy TEX SCHRAMM | 1920-2003

DIED Of undetermined causes, Tex Schramm, 83, general manager of
the Cowboys from the team's inception in 1960 until '89. Schramm
transformed the Cowboys from a hapless team (they were 0-11-1 in
'60) into America's Team (by the 1970s their radio broadcasts
were heard in 19 states and Mexico). He had a leaguewide impact,
introducing computerized scouting, microphones on referees and,
most memorably, in 1970, scantily clad cheerleaders. "Fans didn't
respond to cheers the way they did at college or high school,"
Schramm said. "So we said the heck with that. Let's just make it
fun, make it entertainment."

Texas Ernest Schramm--named for the state in which his parents
met--had been a sportswriter in L.A. before becoming p.r.
director for the Rams in 1947. He worked his way up to G.M. (and
gave a young Pete Rozelle his first NFL job, in the p.r.
department), then left in '56 to work for CBS Sports. During the
1960 Winter Olympics, Schramm was mesmerized by the IBM computers
used to process results. When Clint Murchison hired him to run
the Cowboys shortly thereafter, Schramm asked an IBM
engineer--who, according to Schramm, "didn't know if a football
was full of air or full of feathers"--to create a program to
evaluate players. That led to the acquisition of players such as
quarterback Craig Morton and wide receiver Bob Hayes, a track
star whose speed the computer loved even though Hayes had never
played college football. Schramm's Cowboys had a winning record
every year from 1966 until '85 and won two Super Bowls, but he
left the team in '89 after new owner Jerry Jones fired coach Tom
Landry, whom Schramm had hired in 1960. In '91 Schramm became the
first NFL team executive to enter the Hall of Fame, fulfilling a
careerlong desire. "I never made any bones about it," Schramm
said in '78. "I'm very conscious of history, and I want to be
remembered as being part of something that was great."