Friday, January 9, 2009

Assembling players who can lead and players who can follow that leadership

Good story in the Fort Worth paper today that uses the early Dallas Cowboy teams as an example of how to build chemistry.

With coach Tom Landry, GM Tex Schramm, and personnel director Gil Brandt running the team, the early Cowboys were careful about selecting players who not only "ran fast [and] played smart," but "mixed well."

Landry, Schramm and Brandt built trust on their teams. They acquired solid citizens who could play good football. They assembled players who could lead ... and players who could follow strong leadership.

"The whole thing about football is trust," said Brandt, Cowboys’ player personnel director for 29 years (1960-88). "Guys like [Bob] Lilly, Lee Roy [Jordan] and Mel [Renfro] not only were good football players, they were good leaders."

To lay the foundation for chemistry, the team would "hold a team function around May 15 every year, and invite all the players and their families to [a local] Country Club," Brandt recalled. "We’d sit around the pool, play golf, play volleyball, hit golf balls into buckets. That’s how guys got to know one another."

As the article puts it, "Landry’s philosophy was simple: Team chemistry on the barbie."

As familiarity spread, players and coaches soon knew the first names of wives, kids, even family pets. In fact, Landry knew how each player on the team liked his steak cooked.

"Tom and I used to cook steaks on the grill every year at the country club," said Brandt.