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The First Cowboy
July 28, 2003
Died
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July 28, 2003

The First Cowboy

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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."

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