He Bought the Franchise for a Song - Literally
The League: Inside the NFL, David Harris (1986),
Texas Schramm Jr. was born in 1920 in Los Angeles. He enrolled as a journalism student at the University of Texas shortly before the outbreak of World War II. There he played on the freshman football team and worked on the student newspaper. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Schramm joined the Army Air Corps and was discharged at war's end with the rank of captain. He finished his studies, then worked as a sports editor for two years before abandoning journalism for good. He got his first job in football in 1947 when he learned that the Rams managing owner, Dan Reeves, was looking for a new publicity director. As the Rams' general manager in the early 1950s, Schramm first met Pete Rozelle. It would prove a long association.
L: Tex Schramm; R: Pete Rozelle
Tex Schramm stayed with the Rams for ten years until driven out by the disorder inside the franchise. When the opportunity to go to New York and join CBS Sports arose, he jumped at the chance and was eventually replaced by his friend Pete Rozelle. At CBS Schramm worked under Bill McPhail as assistant director of sports, obtaining events to televise. Among the contracts he handled were those with the network's assortment of NFL teams.
Tex Schramm's path finally merged with Rozelle's at the 1960 League meeting at which Rozelle was chosen commissioner. The other hot issue that winter was the prospect of expanding the League by two more franchises, one to be located in Dallas. Schramm was recommended to its prospective owner, Clint Murchison, by George Halas and Murchison hired Schramm as general manager of a franchise that did not yet exist. CBS let him resign contingent upon Murchison actually securing the franchise he sought.
The primary roadblock to NFL expansion into Dallas in 1960 was George Preston Marshall, then owner of the Washington Redskins and one of the most powerful figures in the League. Marshall's television holdings were largely in stations around the South, and he thought of the entire area as Redskins home turf. He had steadfastly opposed any invasion of the region by another football team. In addition, there was no love lost between Marshall and the rich young Texan, Murchison. During the 1950s, Murchison had sought unsuccessfully to buy Marshall's franchise with the idea of selling it should the NFL expand into his hometown, but the deal fell apart because Marshall insisted on being kept on by the new ownership in a management position and Murchison did not want him. Marshall led the fight to keep the NFL from expanding into Dallas.
Then Murchison played his hole card.
Marshall loved band music at football games and in particular loved his team's fight song, "Hail to the Redskins." He had, however, fired the song's composer, and in a fit of pique the bandleader had sold the rights to the tune to a Murchison crony. When Murchison threatened to deny the Redskins the use of their theme song, Marshall relented and the Dallas Cowboys were born on January 28, 1960. Not counting the price of the song, the franchise cost Murchison $600,000.
As the new franchise's general manager, Tex Schramm immediately set about building his reputation as a "football man." Though starting an NFL team from scratch was no small task, the Cowboys would soon be identified by Rozelle as "the most successful modern expansion team in the NFL." At the fore in that rise was Schramm, "one of the game's great innovators."
In 1962, for example, an IBM subsidiary approached the fledgling franchise seeking to sell it computers to handle its accounting problems. Instead, Schramm challenged them to develop a system to handle the task of choosing which football players to hire. Within a few years, the Cowboys' computerized system was acknowledge as the premier scouting apparatus in the League. ...
Though long acknowledged as a "driving force" inside the League, Schramm confirmed his central role in 1966, when the war with the American Football League had been going on for six long and expensive years. Several different informal contacts between owners of the two leagues had gone nowhere. The contact that finally led to peace took place between Tex Schramm and Lamar Hunt at Dallas's Love Field airport on April 6, 1966. The two men knew each other from the early days in Dallas, when Hunt's AFL franchise was located there.
At the time of their meeting, Hunt was headed to the AFL gathering in Houston, where Al Davis would be appointed AFL commissioner. Hunt and Schramm's first conversation about merger took place inside a parked car at the airport. "At this point," Schramm remembered, "we did not want to be seen together." Hunt was noncommital about the plan presented to him, but agreed with Schramm's proposal that that the two act as the leagues' intermediaries. A month later, the two met again at Hunt's home and then again the following week. At that point, Hunt was finally convinced that "any problems could be solved." That conclusion was followed by another month of frantic negotiations between Schramm, Rozelle, and the rest of the NFL owners on the one hand, and Hunt and the rest of the AFL on the other. All of it was cloaked in secrecy so intense that at one point, Schramm and Rozelle registered under assumed names in a Washington, D.C., hotel in order to meet with Hunt and then forgot to tell Hunt what name they had registered under. As a consequence, the AFL representative spent two hours in the lobby trying to locate them.
On June 8, 1966, the agreement for merging the two leagues was announced. Its three key provision were the payment of $18 million in indemnities by the AFL, a four-year interim period before commencing business as a single organization, and the retention of Rozelle as the merged NFL's commissioner. In all accounts of the process, Tex Schramm was described as its "architect."
Schramm, Rozelle, and Hunt announce merger.