Texas Earnest Schramm, Jr. was born in 1920 in San Gabriel, California. His father was named Texas Ernst Schramm and his mother was Elsa J. Steinwender Schramm. Tex’s father later adopted the spelling Earnest for his middle name, but at birth his father had shared the middle name Ernst with four of his siblings. Tex’s grandfather, Edgar Ernst Schramm had come to the United States from Germany and his grandmother, the former “Tony” Benner, was born in New Braunfels. The Benners had been long time Texas residents, as Tex’s grandmother Benner’s family had had arrived in the 1800s. His Schramm grandparents had resided in San Antonio for many years. Tex’s father had moved the family to California where Tex spent his early years, attending high school there. Tex attended University of Texas in Austin, graduating in 1947 with a degree in journalism, after serving in the United States Army Air Corps in World War II.
Tex began his career with the National Football League by working for the Los Angeles Rams from 1947 to 1956. Then, he worked for CBS for two years. Tex became acquainted with Clint Murchison, Jr. after that time. When it became apparent that Dallas was going to become an expansion team with the NFL, Tex was hired as general manager of the future club.
The team was initially known as the Dallas Rangers and began operations in 1960. It was an “expansion team” and the new club was allowed to select up to three unprotected players from any other club. Since the expansion draft occurred after the NFL draft, the new club did not have an opportunity to select new players. A few days after the draft, the club changed its name to the Dallas Cowboys.
Schramm is credited for hiring head coach Tom Landry and player/personnel director Gil Brandt. Landry had not been a head coach before and had been serving as an assistant coach of the New York Giants. The club started very slowly. The Cowboys did not have a winning record until their 7th season, in 1966. Prior to that, their combined record was 24 wins, 53 losses and 4 ties. The next twenty plus years are generally considered the most successful in franchise history with 20 consecutive winning seasons. During the Landry/Schramm era, the club overcame the slow start to make 36 playoff appearances, winning 20 of the games and going on to win two Super Bowls. Schramm was a “hands on” general manager and is also said to have been delegated considerable authority from Murchison including the role of representing the team in NFL league meetings.
Schramm is referenced as being a key player in the AFL/NFL merger in 1970. He is considered to be the innovator of changes that are still in effect today, including advancing the concept of instant replay, speeding up the game by shortening the time between plays with a play clock, widening the sideline borders, introducing wireless communication in quarterback helmets, providing a microphone to the head referee to announce penalty calls, promoting the “wild card” playoff system. Other ideas were more marketing oriented, such as the formation of the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders and creating a weekly newspaper published by the club. Schramm is also credited for the concept of the Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor which lists key players and executives associated with the club. He also was the main focus of a weekly radio program during the football season called “Ask Tex Schramm” broadcast from local restaurants. He also appeared in the “Tex Schramm Show” on television.
From 1960 to 2021, the Cowboys’ record has been 526-398-6 (W-L-T). During the Landry/Schramm years it was 250-162-6 and since then it has been 276-236-0.
Schramm left the Cowboys after the second of two ownership changes in 1989 (Bum Bright and then Jerry Jones). He had spent just under five decades in professional football. Tex was involved in the early days of the World Football league but eventually retired entirely. He passed away at the age of 83 in 2003. His wife Marty predeceased him in 2002. Both are interred at Restland Funeral Home and Memorial Park.
Tex Schramm’s honors include being inducted into the Football Hall of Fame in 1991 and being posthumously added to the Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor.
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