Hidden facts about Tom Landry
By: Jeremy Trottier
Tom Landry is widely known for his coaching career in the NFL, and how he was the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys for 29 different seasons, winning 2 Super Bowls with them and winning coach of the year honors. But there are many facts that the average NFL fan may not know about Landry, making him even more of an intriguing and polarizing figure in football history. In this article, I will cover 3 facts about Tom Landry that are interesting to know, that the average fan may not know yet.
Tom Landry played for the New York Yankees…kind of
Most fans of the NFL will know Landry had a playing career, and that he was a pretty prolific special teams player at punter, return man, and occasionally halfback. What they may not know is that he, technically, played for the New York Yankees. The New York Yankees were two different entities at the time, with the baseball team widely known, but there were also the New York Yankees of the AAFC. Tom Landry played 1 season with the New York “football” Yankees in 1949 before they folded, and Landry moved to the NFL with the New York Giants. Even more interesting? The New York “football” Yankees played in the same stadium as the New York “baseball” Yankees, in Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. So, in all technicalities, Tom Landry played in Yankee Stadium for the New York Yankees. Kind of.
Landry not only created one defensive scheme but two
Many NFL head coaches were renowned for their impact on the game based on how many new ideas they created or how many impactful changes they made. Well, Tom Landry created two different defensive schemes, one of which is used by nearly half the league today. These are the 4-3 defense, and the flex defense. The 4-3 is widely utilized today, with the list of teams as of 2022 including:
- Washington Commanders
- New York Jets
- Cincinnati Bengals
- Cleveland Browns
- Buffalo Bills
- Philadelphia Eagles
- New Orleans Saints
- San Francisco 49ers
- Indianapolis Colts
- Carolina Panthers
- Kansas City Chiefs
His impact on the game even today, 34 years after his last season, is immense.
Landry had a family history of military service
Tom Landry, as some of you will know, chose to interrupt his college tenure to join the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War 2, and trained to be a B-17 co-pilot, serving for the Eighth Air Force division, as part of the 493rd Squadron. He served for a tour of 30 separate missions and even survived a crash landing in Belgium when his bomber ran out of fuel during service. However, he also had a brother, Robert Landry, who served in the Army Air Corps as well prior to Tom. Robert, unfortunately, passed in service when his plane went down over the Atlantic Ocean, where he was pronounced dead weeks later. Tom chose to serve in honor of his brother and joined the same branch of service to do so as well.