Can History Repeat Itself?
November 20, 2008 - Bob Gretz | Comments (4)
Comparing events, people and situations over time is a funny business. No matter how similar the facts seem, the plots are never quite the same from generation to generation. While moments may seem like copies of each other, when held up to the light the differences become obvious.
Nevertheless, follow along with me on this football story.
A young man, the product of a Texas family that built a fortune in the oil business, owned a professional football team.
His club was going through a tough patch, losing far more often than it won. This wasn’t just one bad year, but several. The talent level of the team was low and what good players were on the roster were young and inexperienced.
The fans were grumbling. OK, they weren’t just grumbling, they were staying away. Attendance and interest were falling.
That natural reaction for any owner in this situation was to fire the head coach. But this owner happened to like the guy, liked what the coach stood for and liked his ideas on building a strong team that would contend for the playoffs over many seasons. The coach was defensive minded and the owner knew from football history that strong defensive teams tend to be more competitive for longer periods of time.
The owner also had a strong general manager to oversee the franchise and the G.M. was completely in the coach’s corner.
The situation called for action.
That’s just what the young man did. He took action.
On February 5, 1964, Clint Murchison Jr. (below) gave the head coach of his Dallas Cowboys a 10-year extension on his contract. Up to that point, over four seasons Tom Landry had led the Cowboys to a record of 13-38-3. With one more year to go on his original contract, Landry now had an 11-year contract. It was something unheard of in the world of sports at the time.
The rest of the story is one of the great tales in the history of sports. In 1964, the Cowboys went 5-8-1. The next year Dallas was 7-7. With the 1966 season, the Cowboys finished 10-3-1 and made the playoffs. They would end up making the playoffs 16 of next 17 years, with 11 appearances in the NFL/NFC Championship Game, five Super Bowl trips and two Super Bowl championships. Tom Landry was the head coach for all of those games.
Now that you know this bit of pro football history, let’s bring the picture back to the present. Another young man from an oil family has a struggling football team and a head coach who is drawing fire from fans for the poor play of his team. Some are calling for his firing.
So far it doesn’t sound like Clark Hunt is ready to pull the plug on Herm Edwards.
Despite losing 18 of the team’s last 19 games and racking up a 14-28 record over the last three years, Hunt has been nothing but supportive of Edwards. Remember just a few weeks ago he told the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram: “I think we’re headed in the right direction. It certainly isn’t going to be a straight line; there’s going to be a lot of ups and downs on this road. But I think Herm is the right type of coach to take us through the rebuilding.” Then, this week Hunt told the Kansas City Star: “… I’m encouraged and very interested to see the last six weeks and how we do in those games.”
Far be it for me to pass along advice to Clark Hunt. This is his business and he understands all angles of the franchise far better than me or anybody in the media. But if he really likes Edwards ideas and his way of rebuilding the franchise, then he should step forward and make it obvious.