Tom Landry tearfully bid farewell to the Dallas Cowboys today, saying he loved them and asking them to give their best for new coach Jimmy Johnson.
“It was hard to keep your emotions under control,” a red-eyed Landry said. “I tried to tell them that this crisis will pass, that you have to keep moving forward.”
Quarterback Danny White said he had never seen his coach so emotional. “I felt for him,” White said.
The 64-year-old Landry choked up and couldn’t finish his speech to the players assembled in the lecture hall.
“It was one of the most difficult things I’ve had to do,” Landry said. “It was hard saying goodby to the players.”
Landry spent 29 years as the Cowboys head coach, the only one in the team’s history. His teams won two NFL championships and set a league-record of 20 consecutive winning seasons. The team went 3-13 last year, worst in the NFL, but Landry had hoped to eventually take them to another Super Bowl, the Cowboys’ sixth.
Landry cleaned out his desk on Sunday, making room for Johnson, who also said goodby to a football team today., the University of Miami Hurricanes. He coached at Miami five seasons, leading them to the national championship in 1987.
Johnson, a college roommate and football teammate of new
owner Jerry Jones on the unbeaten 1964 Arkansas Razorbacks, will meet the Cowboys Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Jones admitted in a Little Rock news conference today that “didn’t do a very good job” dismissing Landry, but he reiterated that he never considered anyone but Miami coach Jimmy Johnson for the job.
Jones said he was sensitive to the feelings of Landry, the only head coach in the Cowboys’ 29-year history, and felt inadequate when he and team president Tex Schramm flew to Austin Saturday to break the news.
“I do want to assure everyone that is interested in the Cowboys and certainly interested in Coach Landry--Coach Landry saw my baby blue eyes as quickly as humanly possible under the circumstances,” Jones, a millionaire oil and gas executive from Little Rock.
And in Miami, Dolphins assistant head coach David Shula--son of head coach Don Shula--said today he’ll join Johnson at Dallas as assistant head coach.
Dave Wannstedt, defensive coordinator for Johnson at the the University of Miami for the past five season, will also join the Cowboys’ staff, the Dolphins said. Wannstedt had joined the Dolphins just last month.