The Definitive Tom Landry Book

I just finished the book The Last Cowboy: A Life of Tom Landry by Mark Ribowsky and it was pretty much what I expected. It was a celebration of one of the best coaches in the history of the NFL. It was a celebration of one of the true innovators of football.

He was the stoic man in the funny hat. He was a hard-nosed task master. He was straight-laced, religious man who didn’t shy away from challenge, but deferred praise while absorbing the criticism. He was Tom Landry. He transformed the game from a brawl between neanderthals into a chess game between thinking men.

As I mentioned, the book was what I expected. It told of his humble beginnings from being a football star in tiny Mission, Texas, a military pilot, a collegiate gridiron player at the University of Texas, a hard-working player in the early National Football League and his transition to becoming a coaching legend that built “America’s Team.”

For a childhood Cowboy fan, this book was filled with stories of my early heroes – the good and the bad parts. It spent much more time covering the games of the early Dallas Cowboys than I expected, but I loved that part as well. At times however, the book seems much more about the team than Landry. It would go on for most of a chapter about the team’s players, controversies, contracts, big business dealing etc. and then seemingly as an afterthought – toss in a sentence or two about Landry.

Being steeped in Cowboys lore, I didn’t really learn much that I hadn’t heard elsewhere. Rather than bits of stories you hear throughout your life though, this is all together in one place.

Actually, there is one thing I learned that was new – but I won’t spoil it by writing it here. If you’re interested, ask me in person… or better yet, read the book. If you are a Cowboy fan, you will love this book – if not, I think you’ll still like it.

by Chris Doelle 


Also published on Medium.