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No matter how unsettling it was for White to watch Staubach's weekly miracle show, he never expressed or displayed resentment. "That was the problem all those years," he says. "I could never get mad enough at Roger to beat him out. Not that I could have." When the team's front office initiated its ill-advised campaign to have the Cowboys be known as "America's Team," White began calling Staubach "America's Quarterback," and Staubach called White "America's Punter." Last season, before Staubach had made up his mind to retire, White slipped a note into Staubach's locker. It said: "Roger, Danny needs your locker for next year. Please turn in your equipment as soon as possible." It was signed "Coach Landry."
The Cowboys struggled last season—losing three straight games in one stretch—and it was only because Staubach had one of his most phenomenal afternoons on the final day of the regular season that Dallas slipped into the playoffs at all. White had his best season ever as a punter, finishing second in the NFC with an average of 41.7 yards per kick, and he was miserable the whole time. "To be the quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys had always seemed a great thing to me," White says, "but there comes a time when you have to decide if you're going to be a starter or a backup for the rest of your career. Being a backup quarterback on a world championship team was one thing, but being a backup on a loser was something else.
"After we had lost our third game in a row, I finally decided to go to Coach Landry, because I had begun to get the feeling the coaches thought I was content just to be the backup quarterback. I told him what was on my mind, and he just sat there listening without saying much. Coach Landry's not one to show his emotions much. The frustration had built up inside me so badly that I would've been happy even if he had told me I was doing a lousy job, just so I'd know where I stood. But all he told me was that he wished he had more players who wanted to start as badly as I did."
Now that White has the job he has coveted for so long, he will find it as difficult to keep as it was to obtain. As soon as White was elevated to the vacant No. 1 position, the heretofore unknown Glenn Carano suddenly became Glenn Carano comma. A great prospect comma a surefire starter someday comma the heir apparent comma. "In several years there's going to be competition," says Schramm. "The only reason Carano isn't in a position to challenge now is because Danny has more experience. Danny's got the job until Carano takes him out of it. We're very pleased with Carano."
Former Dallas Defensive End Pat Toomay, now retired, has seen the Cowboys play the same kind of game with other incumbents. "There's an element of fright instilled into all the players in the Dallas system," he says. "They like to make a player feel he's in danger of losing his job to someone else, hoping that that feeling will make him a better player. To me it would add to the pressure. I've always felt a good athlete placed enough pressure on himself."
All that Landry will say is that Carano may be good enough to take the position from White. "We like competition," he says. "We think it brings out the best in people."
Danny White hopes it brings out the best in Danny White. Period.