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Cowboys Rally Around Stautner

Mike Gaechter and Jethro Pugh. Preston Pearson and even Phil Pozderac, who would only have crossed paths with Ernie for six seasons. 

There may have been more that I didn't recognize. 

Not just these players here Monday, but coaching staff, too. Jim Myers, Gene Stallings, Dick Nolan, Jerry Tubbs, Neil Armstrong, Bob Ward, the strength and conditioning coach. Barbara Goodman, long-time head coach secretary, first for Tom, then Jimmy and Barry, too. 

Just on and on and on, stretching into the media of that era, from Frank Luksa to Carlton Stowers to Murphy Martin to Sam Blair to Brad Sham. 

"We just had a good group in the 70's," Waters said. 

Know how tight they were? Check this one out. When Waters became defensive coordinator for the Denver Broncos in the early 90's, and I had forgotten this, he hired Ernie Stautner, at age 68, to be his defensive line coach.  

"Hey man, we needed that toughness," Waters said of what Stautner brought to the table. 

Maybe that competitiveness, too. His son-in-law, Greg Hinds, daughter Carol's husband, remembered the time on vacation, after the girls finished playing tennis, Ernie got him on the court. He talked about how he just kept hitting the ball to the older guy, and no matter where Ernie hit the ball, Greg just got it right back down the middle to Ernie, much to his consternation. 

"He finally pointed the racquet at me and said, 'Gosh darn it Greg, quit hitting the ball right at me. Play to win!'" remembers Hinds, who certainly, knowing Ernie, had to clean up that line for church purposes. 

Lilly told of how Ernie one day at camp, showing the guys how to throw a forearm shiver at the blocking sled, missed the pad and caught all steel. Broke and bloodied his hand, but, by gosh, came out for practice in the afternoon, no matter the cast and "throbbing" hand. Said Lilly, "He made a better man out of me." 

Those are all Ernie, through and through, the chiseled, jut-jawed German who pushed those Cowboys blue coaching shorts and shirts to the extreme for 23 years on Landry's staff. 

That is why it was so hard for so many to think of Ernie fighting Alzheimer's at the end of his 80 years. He had been living in Vail, Colo., but in the end, had been in the hospital recently and his final four days in the nursing home - Ernie could be tough to handle - where he died. 

Family members say, considering, maybe it was for the best. 

So there goes another of those larger-than-life Cowboys from that era gone by. Gone, but certainly not forgotten. Not on this day. Not when the "team" got together again. 

And you got the feeling the priest saying mass didn't really know Ernie, but had done some research on the World War II vet who had immigrated to this country at age three with his family from Bavaria. And maybe the priest even understood what was before him this day with all those old Cowboys in his midst. 

For he began by talking about how each of us at birth "becomes a non-repeatable" being, and that certainly was Ernie, right? 

Then he spoke of team, by perception, by accident, who knows. 

"No one person makes up a team," the priest said. "(It's) a gang of individuals, and has a life of its own." 

Sure must, because once again in death, those old Cowboys are living proof of what they once were.   


!   The New York Jets finally made it official: Former Cowboys offensive line coach Tony Wise has become their offensive line coach under new coach Eric Mangini and he also announced Richie Anderson as his assistant wide receivers coach. The Cowboys former fullback retired from the NFL last year, and did some work with The Ticket (Sports Radio 1301 AM) on its pregame shows. 
!   Charlie Waters said he asked Ernie Stautner one day who were the best four defensive linemen he had ever played with, against or coached, and that the former Cowboys defensive coordinator named Bob Lilly,

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