The Landry’s Last Stand Diary: The Rewards For An Inquiring Mind
Since the dawning of time, the indelibility of fact has both haunted and intrigued the limited capacity of the human mind. For some, the unknown can be alluring. For others, recorded history is unspeakably disappointing, if not altogether devastating.
Even three decades removed, a liberal combination of both feelings exist on the part of Dallas Cowboys fans for the 1980s. Many find it hard to look back, knowing full well the heartbreak and the losses suffered therein.
If you’re like me, you find its many unspoken topics and controversies to be full of wonder. Ever since I was 12 years old and got just a small taste of the troubles that belabored Tom Landry during the decade while reading Bob St. John’s book “The Landry Legend,” I always wanted to read more about the 1980s. But few writers cared to take time to share from the wealth of such an accursed time. Those who did generally did so in passing, failing to bring out the enlightening details that would help to bring some of the pieces of this most confusing puzzle together.
What truly happened to Tom Landry’s Cowboys? What happened to America’s Team? How did the greatest dynasty in pro football’s modern era come apart at the seams?
These are questions which I have always been intrigued by, but honestly never thought I would find answers to. So rather than probe such historical challenges for answers, I settled on somewhat of a compromise by choosing to write the story of what remains as the final untold triumph of Tom Landry’s 29-year tenure with the Dallas Cowboys.
So I came up with a catchy title, and got right to work. You see, it’s no secret that “Landry’s Last Stand” was originally supposed to be a simple in-depth story of the Cowboys’ 1985 season, allowing me to re-introduce to the reader so many characters from that era. It was supposed to be an opportunity to present a new reason to clap for Landry’s Cowboys one more time, and to share a few new and forgotten stories along the way.
And, in so many ways, the book still provides all of that. The story still revolves around the Cowboys’ 1985 campaign. But when I dove into my research for the book, it quickly became something far bigger and more involved than I could ever have anticipated. The more I studied, the more cause I found to pause and consider. It wasn’t very long before I realized that I had more questions on paper than actual answers.
This, quite frankly, presented a problem. How could I tell a story that I did not understand? How could I explain to others a player’s or a coach’s actions that were actually confusing to me? Why was Tex so grumpy? Why was Tom so determined? Why was the locker room so divided? What was different about these Cowboys?
With a little patience and persistence, I soon found answers to all these questions. All, and a whole lot more.
Next time, we’ll talk about Tom Landry and the power of historical assumptions.
Thanks for reading along.