Texas Earnest Schramm, better known as "Tex", rose to Professional Football Hall of Fame status during his 29 seasons as president and general manager of the Dallas Cowboys, turning a 1960 expansion franchise in Dallas into "America's Team."
With Schramm overseeing the birth and growth of the Cowboys organization, the team reached five Super Bowls, winning two, and compiled an NFL-record 20 consecutive winning seasons, one of the longest such streaks in all of professional sports.
Along the way, Schramm pioneered such revolutionary ideas as creating the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, the first of their kind in professional football; bringing the NFL to the nation on Thanksgiving Day; developing the Cowboys' Ring of Honor; spearheading the involvement of instant replay in the officiating of the game; giving the head referee a microphone for penalty announcements; shortening the play-clock; and helping to develop the wild-card playoff system.
His position as chairman of the NFL Competition Committee from 1966 to 1988 aided his innovative efforts. Schramm's impact on the league was widespread, and probably his most cherished legacy since the one-time TV-exec at CBS who first came up with the idea of televising the Winter Olympics in 1960 from Squaw Valley was such a firm believer in preserving and making history.
Maybe Schramm's most significant accomplishments in the NFL was coordinating the merger of the established NFL and the fledging American Football League in 1966, holding what amounted to as secret meetings with Kansas City Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt at the insistence of NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle. The merger of the two warring leagues led to what became known as the Super Bowl, and when the leagues combined in 1970, the most powerful sports league in the world.
After Schramm departed the Cowboys in 1989 once Jerry Jones bought the club, he went international, becoming president of the upstart World League of American Football, later to become know as NFL Europe. He was inducted in to the Hall of Fame in 1991.
"I'm not one of the great athletes like the men behind me," a jubilant Schramm said during his Hall of Fame induction speech. "But I'm thrilled to be standing in front of them. Many of the men in here were my heroes. To be rubbing shoulders with them, it's beyond my comprehension."
In all, Schramm spent 44 years of his life in professional football, starting as a sportswriter for the Austin American-Statesman in 1947 - a natural step for the California-born Schramm who earned a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Texas. Before going to CBS for a brief period (1967-59) and then being hired by Clint Murchison in 1959 to oversee the startup of the Dallas expansion franchise, Schramm spent 10 seasons with the Los Angeles Rams (1947-56). It was then Schramm first came in contact with Rozelle, actually hiring him to be the Rams' public relations director.
Born June 2, 1920, San Gabriel, California.