1960 Dallas Cowboys season
The 1960 Dallas Cowboys season was the inaugural season for the franchise in the National Football League (NFL). The team finished with zero wins, 11 losses, and 1 tie, which placed them last in the Western Conference, and was the worst record in the NFL for that season, worse than Dallas' previous entry into the NFL, the Dallas Texans (who finished 1–11 in their lone season in 1952, then relocated to Baltimore as the Colts).
|1960 Dallas Cowboys season|
|Head coach||Tom Landry|
|Owner||Clint Murchison, Jr.|
|Home field||Cotton Bowl|
|Division place||7th NFL Western|
|Playoff finish||did not qualify|
The NFL had no interest in expanding, but after Lamar Hunt started an American Football League franchise (the Dallas Texans), the NFL granted a franchise to Clint Murchison, Jr., and Bedford Wynne on January 28, 1960. As a footnote to this decision, when the NFL began considering expansion to Texas, the Washington Redskins founder and owner George Preston Marshall strongly opposed the move, as he had enjoyed a monopoly in the South for three decades (apart from the one-year appearance of the Dallas Texans in 1952). Murchison bought the rights to their fight song Hail to the Redskins from a disgruntled Barnee Breeskin (the Redskins' team band leader) and threatened to prevent Marshall from playing it at games. Marshall eventually agreed to back Murchison's bid, receiving back the rights to the song.
The franchise hired former Los Angeles Rams executive Tex Schramm as their general manager. Tom Landry, an assistant coach with the New York Giants, was named head coach. Landry was offered the coaching job before the 1959 NFL Championship Game, with a five-year contract. The same day that Landry accepted the offer, it was reported by UPI that Landry would become coach of the AFL's Houston Oilers. Gil Brandt, who had served as a part-time scout for the Rams under Schramm, was named player personnel director. The day after the title game, Landry was announced as head coach of the proposed NFL team in Texas, a franchise that had yet to be awarded.
According to Schramm, the team's name was originally the "Dallas Steers", but then was changed to the "Dallas Rangers," which was the name of the minor league baseball team that was supposed to be disbanded. The franchise was admitted to the league too late to participate in the 1960 NFL college draft. However, majority owner Murchison signed two college players, quarterback Don Meredith from SMU, and running back Don Perkins from New Mexico, to personal services contracts before the draft (and before the franchise was voted into the league). The NFL honored these contracts after the franchise was voted in, although the Baltimore Colts drafted Perkins in the ninth round, and Meredith was also selected by the Chicago Bears in the third round after owner George Halas made the pick to help ensure that the expansion Cowboys got off to a solid start. The franchise was allowed to retain both players, but had to give their third-round and ninth-round choices in the 1962 NFL draft to the Bears and Colts, respectively.
On March 13, 1960, the franchise selected 36 players in an expansion draft. Each of the other 12 NFL teams were allowed to protect 25 players from their 36-man roster. The franchise was then were given 24 hours to select three players from those unprotected by each other team.
The franchise was placed in the league's Western Conference. However, since they were the league's thirteenth franchise in addition to being an expansion franchise, it was decided that they would play every team in the league once, instead of playing each team in their conference twice, as the other teams did.
Other notable transactions prior to the season included acquiring quarterback Eddie LeBaron from the Washington Redskins, offensive end Billy Howton from the Cleveland Browns, and signing former San Francisco 49ers fullback Gene Babb. During training camp the team signed quite a few players who were released by other teams. Notable signings included center Mike Connelly, a rookie who was released by the Los Angeles Rams, and veteran Don Bishop, a defensive back who was released by the Chicago Bears.
The franchise used the nickname "Rangers" during its draft. But on March 19, after the baseball team owners reversed course, Murchison volunteered to rename his team to the Cowboys to avoid confusion with the American Association Dallas Rangers baseball team.
|1||September 24||Pittsburgh Steelers||L 28–35||Cotton Bowl||0–1||30,000|||
|2||September 30||Philadelphia Eagles||L 25–27||Cotton Bowl||0–2||18,500|||
|3||October 9||at Washington Redskins||L 14–26||Griffith Stadium||0–3||21,142|||
|4||October 16||Cleveland Browns||L 7–48||Cotton Bowl||0–4||28,500|||
|5||October 23||at St. Louis Cardinals||L 10–12||Busch Stadium||0–5||23,128|||
|6||October 30||Baltimore Colts||L 7–45||Cotton Bowl||0–6||25,500|||
|7||November 6||Los Angeles Rams||L 13–38||Cotton Bowl||0–7||16,000|||
|8||November 13||at Green Bay Packers||L 7–41||City Stadium||0–8||32,294|||
|9||November 20||San Francisco 49ers||L 14–26||Cotton Bowl||0–9||10,000|||
|10||November 27||at Chicago Bears||L 7–17||Wrigley Field||0–10||39,951|||
|11||December 4||at New York Giants||T 31–31||Yankee Stadium||0–10–1||55,033|||
|12||December 11||at Detroit Lions||L 14–23||Briggs Stadium||0–11–1||43,272|||
- Saturday night (September 24), Friday night (September 30)
- A bye week was necessary in 1960, as the league had an odd-number (13) of teams; one team was idle each week.
The fourteenth team (Minnesota) joined the league in 1961 and the NFL initiated a 14-game regular season.
Expectations certainly were not high for the Cowboys heading into their inaugural season, but they got off to a hopeful start, as the team took a 14–0 lead on Bobby Layne and the Pittsburgh Steelers early in their first game and led throughout before succumbing in the fourth quarter 35–28. The next week they played the eventual league champion Philadelphia Eagles to a near deadlock, losing 27–25, the difference being two blocked extra points.
The lack of talent on the roster caught up with them as the season went on, however. Their first ever road game was against the woeful Washington Redskins, and it ended in defeat, 26–14, spoiling quarterback Eddie LeBaron's return to the city where he starred for the Redskins during the '50s. The next week the team was annihilated at home by one of the league's top teams, the Cleveland Browns, 48–7. The team would go on to suffer more lopsided defeats, including a 45–7 loss to the defending champion Baltimore Colts, and a 41–7 loss to the eventual Western Conference champion Green Bay Packers. Squeezed in between blowout losses was rookie quarterback Don Meredith's first start, which came against the Los Angeles Rams. Predictably, Meredith struggled in a 38–13 loss.
The Cowboys also suffered heartbreaking losses, including a 12–10 defeat in St. Louis to the Cardinals, a game in which they led late only to lose on a field goal in the last minute, and a 26–14 defeat against the San Francisco 49ers, in which the Cowboys surrendered 17 points during the last 6 minutes of the game.
The lone highlight of 1960 came near the end of the season, when they traveled to Yankee Stadium and tied the New York Giants 31–31, ending the Giants' hopes of winning the Eastern Conference crown for the third year in a row. New York won the next three conference titles for five in six seasons.
The Cowboys struggled in almost every statistical category, finishing last in both points scored (177) and points allowed (369). Quarterback LeBaron and the receiving corps provided some big plays in the passing game throughout the season, but LeBaron mostly struggled behind a porous offensive line, and the quarterbacks threw a league-high 33 interceptions. Rookie halfback Perkins was lost prior to the season after breaking a bone in his foot, and the Cowboys rushing attack suffered all season long, finishing last in the league in rushing at 1049 yards, and averaging a paltry 3.4 yards per carry.
Defensively the team was gashed by opposing running games all season long, giving up 2242 yards rushing and allowing 5.0 yards per carry, both last in the league. The team's pass defense had its moments, particularly in games against the Chicago Bears and St. Louis Cardinals, but gave up too many big plays and did not provide much of a pass rush.
The kicking game proved to be average, and the kick returners were among the worst in the league, despite an ample number of opportunities (a league high 69 kick returns).
|NFL Western Conference|
|Green Bay Packers||8||4||0||.667||7–4||332||209||W3|
|San Francisco 49ers||7||5||0||.583||7–4||208||205||W1|
|Los Angeles Rams||4||7||1||.364||4–6–1||265||297||L1|
Note: Tie games were not officially counted in the standings until 1972.
|Dallas Cowboys 1960 roster|
Rookies in italics
- "Dallas 'in'; Twin Cities '61 NFL entry". Milwaukee Sentinel. UPI. January 29, 1960. p. 3, part 2.
- "Dallas and Twin Cities get NFL franchises; AFL declares war". Milwaukee Journal. press dispatches. January 29, 1960. p. 11, part 2.
- "Dallas, Twin Cities gain entry to NFL". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Florida. Associated Press. January 29, 1960. p. 17.
- "Franchise tickles Tex". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Florida. Associated Press. January 29, 1960. p. 17.
- "New rule simplifies expansion by NFL". Milwaukee Journal. press dispatches. January 28, 1960. p. 14, part 2.
- "Fight song writer instant celebrity". Wilmington Morning Star. North Carolina. Associated Press. February 2, 1983. p. 4D.
- Gilmore, Dan (January 31, 1988). "'Hail to the Redskins' has found its permanent home in D.C." Sunday Star-News. Wilmington, North Carolina. Maturity News Service. p. 3D.
- Toomay, Pat. "A rivalry for a song ... and chicken feed". ESPN.com. Page 2. Retrieved January 7, 2016.
- Freeman, Denne H. (December 11, 1983). "'Skins & Cowboys: battle of the best". Daytona Beach Sunday News-Journal. Florida. Associated Press. p. 1D.
- "Greatest football coach without team at moment". Ottawa Citizen. Canada. Canadian Press. December 29, 1959. p. 14.
- Giants Among Men, Jack Cavanaugh, p.211, 2008, Random House, ISBN 978-1-4000-6717-6
- "Landry quits Giant post". St. Petersburg Independent. Florida. Associated Press. December 29, 1959. p. 7A.
- "Dallas signs Tom Landry as coach". Daytona Beach Morning Journal. Florida. Associated Press. December 29, 1959. p. 11.
- "Dallas will get 'gigantic' test in grid season". Free Lance-Star. Fredericksburg, Virginia. Associated Press. February 1, 1960. p. 7.
- "Dallas lands six players". Milwaukee Sentinel. UPI. March 16, 1960. p. 4, part 2.
- "New NFL entry to play Rams in Pendleton Sunday". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). September 2, 1960. p. 13.
- "Rams crush Dallas club". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). Associated Press. September 5, 1960. p. 8.
- "Dallas Eleven Changes Made". New York Times. 1960-03-20. p. S4.