A couple of weeks ago I was lieing across my bed watching one of my favorite shows: A Football Life. I could watch that show everyday if it weren't for work and family responsibilities. But that's another story!
On this particular saturday, they were highlighting the life of one of the most legendary coaches in NFL history. To label him as a coach is almost sacreligious. Whereas Jesus was God as a man, this man could be described as God as a coach.
He wore a suit and brimmed hat that made him look like an FBI agent. His face was chiseled out of Mt. Rushmore and he had the nerves of steel trap. For 29 years, he stood on the sidelines and lead Americas's team to two superbowls, 13 divisonal titles, 5 NFC titles and compiled a 270-178-6 record. For all of you football fans, I'm sure you know who I'm talking about - Coach Tom Landry.
When we talk about caoches, we often get into debates about who is the greatest and whose not I'm not going to get into that debate here but I will just point out that Coach Landry is legendary. I will go so far as to say that he is probably among the top one percent of the coaches that has ever coached the games. Hands down!
When it comes to coaches, I'm going to go out on a limb a say that all are competitive. That's a given or else they wouldn't be coaching. All coaches are passionate about their sport. Some more than others. Some show their passion more than others but it's the passion that makes them do what they do and helps them to be successful. And all coaches (at least at the professional level) are knowledgeable about their sport. With all things considered, why are some coaches so successful and the vast majority mediocre. Well, it's that the leadership thing again!
I hate to make it sound so simple but in many ways, leadership is what it comes down to. And a select few coaches are better leaders than others. Just like talent isn't equal. Leadership ability isn't equal. Some coaches/leaders are better able to command authority, communicate their vision and teach better than others. Coach Landry was one of those coaches. That rare and elite coach that could lead, teach and communicate effectively.
But Coach Landry was a legendary coach not so much because of his ability to coach and lead but because of his principles and creativity. If you were to list a few reasons why Tom Landry was successful, I would have to list the six reasons:
- Coach Landry put God first. Football wasn't his main priority in life. Because Coach Landry put God first, this allowed him to put life and football in its proper perspective. He didn't get burned out or discouraged during the lean years. Having God in his life allowed in to perservere and win for over 29 years.
- Coach Landry was innovative. For the most part, the NFL is a "me too" league. Landry set the standard instead of copying the standard. He brought back the shotgun offense which is a staple in the NFL, college, high school and even youth leagues. He invented the 4-3 flex defense which is a standard in the NFL.
- Coach Landry was confident under pressure. Even when the Cowboys was losing, you never saw Coach Landry show emotion. He showed the same stern face whether they were winning or losing. I'm sure he was a ball of emotions when inside but the fans and the players didn't know it.
- Coach Landry was a great teacher. While watching A Football Life, I saw how he conducted his team meetings. It was like being in a college level engineering class. The way he illustrated his plays and taught technique was precise and detailed.
- Coach Landry was demanding. Each player during the documentary all stated that Tom Landry had a certain way he like things done and you didn't deviate. When you followed his way of doing things, you would reach your potential. He got the best of his atheletes. Not all of his players liked him personally but all agreed that he was a great coach.
- Coach Landry commanded leadership. Although most players today would not approve of his hierarchal and stern type of discipline, it helped create disciplined, well-organized, focused and winning teams. Landry was definitely old school and he got results. And that's what leadership is all about in the end. The results.