"We weren't ready to challenge Green Bay that year, but we came close because of our style and flair," said Landry, who had invented the multiple-offense system for Dallas in 1960 and was watching it not only produce a lot of yardage but become widely imitated. "The next year, though, I thought we would beat the Packers. They weren't the Packers of old anymore." Instead, on a frozen field in weather so bitterly cold several players were treated for frostbite, Bart Starr scored on a quarterback sneak at the very end of the game, and the Packers won 21-17. "That one was very hard for me to live with," said Landry.
After playoff losses to Cleveland the next two years, the Cowboys had a mediocre record in 1970 until they got smashed 38-0 by St. Louis in a nationally televised game with Meredith in the announcing booth informing a somewhat startled country that something smelled in Dallas.
The morning after that sad affair, Schramm called Murchison and said, "This is getting serious."
"What is?" said Murchison.
"Landry's catching a lot of criticism. The fans are really grumbling. We've got to strengthen Tom's position."
"Simple," Murchison said. "Call a press conference, and I'll give Tom a new 10-year contract."
The Cowboys won their next seven games, including the divisional playoff and the NFC championship, before losing to Baltimore in the Super Bowl. Last year Dallas returned to the Super Bowl and won it, beating Miami in what Clifford calls "a real surgeon's job."
Landry's Dallas contract expires in 1974, but Murchison is ready to offer him a new one whenever he wants it. Landry also has an option to purchase a piece of the Cowboys—probably 5%, though some sources say it is as much as 20—at the 1960 price. It is unlikely he will ever need to sell another insurance policy.
"One of Tom's great talents is his ability to recognize potential in a player," Murchison says. "We have players who wouldn't have been kept around on other teams that are contenders. Tom can see something worth keeping in a mass of humanity. Tactics dwindle in importance to that. What a coach can contribute to a team is about 10% inspiration, 10% motivation, 20% to 30% tactics, and the rest is recognition."
Driving to his house on the outskirts of Dallas, Landry talked about how he finds and deals with players. The Cowboys do use computers for compiling figures on their own and other teams, but they have abandoned psychological testing. "I have great faith in people," Landry said. "I won't turn my back on them until I've given them every opportunity to bring out the good. My job would be easier as a coach if I eliminated from the team people who have the hang-ups, have the problems, who are a little detrimental to the team effort, but I won't do that until they have a chance to pull themselves out. Some do and some don't."