Cowboys Coach Tom Landry was the target of telephone threats on his life Sunday night and, flanked by security guards, left the field for several minutes during Dallas' game against the Rams in Anaheim Stadium.
Shortly after time expired in the third quarter of the Rams' 29-10 victory, Landry was escorted into the tunnel that led to the Cowboys' dressing room. He returned with 12:15 remaining in the game wearing a bullet-proof vest under his jacket and sweater.
According to Anaheim Police Lt. Jack Parra, the telephone operator at Anaheim Stadium received a call at 7:55 p.m. "An unidentified male subject stated that his brother, who has mental problems, was at the game with the purpose of shooting Coach Landry of the Dallas Cowboys," Parra said.
A brief statement given to reporters during the game said: "After a series of telephoned threats were received on Tom Landry, it was deemed by authorities they were serious enough to warrant taking Landry to the dressing room where the situation was evaluated and investigated. After doing such, it was decided for Landry to return to the field, where he remains under close security."
When the game was over, Landry was escorted off the field, flanked by uniformed Anaheim Police officers and security personnel and surrounded by a mob of cameramen and still photographers. After reaching the Cowboys' dressing room, Landry offered an explanation as to what had happened. He was calm. He even cracked a smile.
"This kind of thing is something we have in our society and we have to deal with it," he said.
Landry said that security personnel offered him a flak jacket, and said the decision to return to the field was his. "I think you have to take it seriously if the security people take it seriously," he said. "I had to make a choice. I just decided that was where I wanted to be."
Danny White, the Cowboys' injured quarterback whose contribution has been limited to assisting Landry in play-calling, wore Landry's headset in the coach's absence. White said that most of the coaches and support personnel were aware of what was happening to Landry, but most of the players were not.
"It was just a situation where we had to keep things going as normally as possible," White said. "The guys on the field didn't know, and I don't think the guys on the bench knew."
White said he was surprised to see Landry return. "It would probably take a lot more than this to keep Coach Landry off the sidelines."
Ram designated pass rusher Gary Jeter tackled Cowboy quarterback Steve Pelluer in the end zone for a third-quarter safety that gave the Rams a 22-10 lead. Jeter happily claimed it was the first time he's scored since his high school days.
Pelluer was rolling to his right, searching for a receiver, when Jeter caught him from behind. "He kind of got them happy feet, so I just dove at him," Jeter said.
Jeter took advantage of the post-game attention to issue a state-of-the-Rams address. "This is not Hollywood team," he said. "This team's for real."
And what of the Cowboys? "I look at it like this," Jeter said. "What goes around comes around. Now, it's coming around for the Cowboys. They can't be good forever."