He has heard the accusations about the undermining of his coach. He doesn't take to them kindly. "I don't feel I have to sit around answering things that people on the outside are saying about my relationship with Landry," Schramm says. "We've been together for 28 years. It's a very unique, strong relationship.
"This is an emotional game, and those things were said under stressful circumstances. I wish I hadn't said them, because they created a misimpression, obviously. I don't have any criticism of Tom's coaching today any more than I've had in past years."
Significantly, Bright has not backed off his statements, which may be ominous for Landry. In his four years as majority owner, Bright had never before publicly criticized the operation of any phase of the Cowboys. "I said I was horrified because every play we called, they dumped us," Bright said last week. "We weren't completing passes, the line was leaking bad, everything was rushed. I said I was horrified at the play-calling."
Bad coaching? Bright paused. His response was carefully chosen. No accolades, no rips, in fact no indication that he'd ever talked with Landry about the Cowboys. "In none of my other operations do I talk to people below the CEO [in this case, Schramm]," he said. "That's so there's no confusion about where the instructions come from."
Fair enough. Schramm signs the checks when a new oil rig is bought; Landry is the foreman on the job. The owner doesn't go out in the field every time a well runs dry. But how about his evaluation of foreman Landry?
"Goodness knows, Tom Landry has a reputation for being a good coach," Bright said. "But I don't watch him coach, and I don't try to evaluate his coaching versus anyone else's. I look at the bottom line, and with the Cowboys it's pretty evident that we don't have a good bottom line."
The hardest question of all: Would Bright ever fire Landry?
"That's an awfully harsh word to use," he said. "I don't think that would ever come about. Tom Landry would not be fired. The relationship with Tom and Tex is such...well, it just wouldn't happen that way."
Landry felt this kind of heat once before. In 1964, Cowboy fans got tired of five straight years of losses by their expansion franchise and called for Landry's scalp. Clint Murchison, the owner, responded by calling a news conference in which he announced that he had just signed Landry to a 10-year contract. That was a vote of confidence. Murchison's next news conference came 20 years later, when he sold the club.
It's Saturday, the day before the Cowboys will face the Redskins in RFK Stadium. The plane to Washington will take off in three hours. Landry sits in his office wearing a red-checked shirt and brown slacks. He doesn't look like a man under siege. He looks ready for a weekend's work.