Tom Landry saw plenty of highs and lows while playing and coaching in the NFL for 40 years.
But he said there was nothing like his last 12 months.
“I got fired and I’m in the Hall of Fame all in one year,” Landry said Saturday in his induction speech at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Landry’s 270 victories during his coaching career are exceeded only by the totals of George Halas and Don Shula.
Also in the class of 1990 were Pittsburgh Steeler running back Franco Harris and linebacker Jack Lambert, Kansas City Chief defensive tackle Buck Buchanan, Miami Dolphin quarterback Bob Griese, San Francisco 49er tackle Bob St. Clair and linebacker Ted Hendricks of the Raiders, Baltimore Colts and Green Bay Packers.
Lambert was a force in the middle of the Steelers’ famed Steel Curtain defense that resulted in four Super Bowl victories.
“If I could start my life all over again, you can be sure I’d be a pro football player and you’d better be certain I’d be a Pittsburgh Steeler,” said Lambert, who spent all of his 11-year career in Pittsburgh.
Harris, who rushed for 12,120 yards in his 12 pro seasons, called Pittsburgh “the greatest team of all time. This was the team I belonged to, a team that will live forever.”
Hendricks spent 15 years with three franchises, but said he found a home with the Raiders.
“The Raiders’ organization developed character,” Hendricks said. “They didn’t care what you did as long as you could play.”
Griese guided the Dolphins to two Super Bowl victories. He passed for 25,092 yards and 192 touchdowns during his 14 seasons.
“I was a guy who learned from his mistakes,” he said. “When I look at the guys going in with me, I see a lot of my mistakes: Buchanan, Hendricks, Lambert. . . . I think I helped these guys get in here.”
Buchanan, a 6-7, 274-pounder, starred on defense for 13 seasons with the Chiefs, helping them to a Super Bowl victory in 1970.
St. Clair played with the 49ers from 1953 to 1963. All-NFL three times, he started in five Pro Bowls.
“My high school coach told me, ‘You’re 5-foot-9, 150 pounds and 15 years old,” said St. Clair, who played for the 49ers at 6-9 and 265. “You’re not big enough to make the high school team. My advice to you is to go home and grow a little.’ So I did exactly what he said. I grew six inches and 60 pounds in the next year.”