Texas Earnest "Tex" Schramm, Jr. (June 2, 1920
- July 15, 2003) was the original president and general manager of the National Football League's Dallas Cowboys franchise.
Schramm became the head of the Cowboys when the former expansion team started operations in 1960. He was also an NFL visionary
and innovator in many areas.
Early life and career
Despite his name, Schramm was not born in Texas, but in San Gabriel, California. Texas
was his father's name and where his parents met. Schramm attended Alhambra High School and went to the University of Texas,
graduating in 1947 with a bachelor's degree in journalism. At UT he was a member of Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity, as was his father.
Schramm interrupted his education to serve as an officer in the United States Army Air Forces during World War II.
Before joining the Cowboys, Schramm was part of the Los Angeles Rams from 1947 to 1956.
During his tenure, he hired Pete Rozelle as the Rams' public relations director; Rozelle later became one of the most important
commissioners in the history of the NFL. They remained close friends after Rozelle became NFL commissioner and Schramm became
general manager of the Cowboys (each holding their position for 29 years).
Clint Murchison hired Schramm in
1959 to build his NFL expansion franchise. Schramm chose the nickname "Cowboys," and hired coach Tom Landry and
chief scout Gil Brandt. By the mid-1960s the three men had built the Cowboys into an elite team. The Cowboys had 20 consecutive
winning seasons, and were the winningest NFL team of the 1970s. They appeared in five Super Bowls that decade, winning Super
Bowls VI and XII, and losing Super Bowls V, X, and XIII by a combined 11 points. The Cowboys became a marquee NFL franchise,
their popularity inspiring the nickname "America's Team".
was known as the most powerful general manager in the NFL. The Cowboys' owners during his tenure, Murchison (1960-84) and
H.R. "Bum" Bright (1984-1988), largely left day-to-day operations in his hands. Schramm held the Cowboys' voting
right at league meetings, a right normally reserved for team owners.
1966, Schramm met secretly with American Football League (AFL) founder Lamar Hunt to begin the negotiations that led to the
1970 merger of the NFL and AFL, as well as the first Super Bowl in 1967.
Schramm was also known for innovations
that helped redefine the modern NFL. These include instant replay, using computer technology in scouting, multi-color striping
of the 20- and 50-yard lines, 30-second clock between plays, extra-wide sideline borders, wind-direction stripes on the goal
post uprights, the referee's microphone, and the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. While leading the league's Competition Committee,
he oversaw rule changes such as using overtime in the regular season, putting the official time on the scoreboard, moving
goalposts from the front of the end zone to the back, and protecting quarterbacks through the in-the-grasp rule. Schramm's
desire for a more comprehensive scouting combine led to the annual offseason NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. Don Shula
said of Schramm, "I truly believe he had as much, or more, to do with the success of professional football as anyone
who has ever been connected with the league."
Schramm stayed on only briefly with the Cowboys after
Jerry Jones purchased the team and fired Tom Landry. He left to become the commissioner of the World League of American Football.
Schramm was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1991. Schramm's entry into the Cowboys Ring of Honor took much
longer due to strained relations with Jones. Schramm had created the Ring of Honor, and had been a "one-man committee"
on inductions. Jones became that "committee" when he took over. Finally in 2003, Jones announced that Schramm would
be inducted into the ring during the next football season. Schramm attended the announcement press conference and spoke, but
died a few months later and was inducted posthumously.
Schramm married his
high school sweetheart, Martha Anne Snowden, in 1941. Mrs. Schramm died on December 8, 2002. They had three daughters.