Tom Landry’s Fedora

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The MMQB presents NFL 95, a special project—unveiled every Wednesday from May through July—detailing 95 artifacts that tell the story of the NFL, as the league prepares to enter its 95th season. See the entire series here.

Tom Landry always wore his Sunday best on the sidelines: suit, tie and his famous fedora. It was fitting for a man who always expected the Sunday best from his team. 

The native of Mission, Texas, coached the Cowboys for 29 seasons. Under Landry's watch, Dallas had a winning record in 20 straight years, from 1966 to 1985—a feat no other club has matched—and made five trips to the Super Bowl, winning twice. Landry won because he innovated, developing the “flex” variant of the 4-3 defense and popularizing the shotgun formation, allowing him to go toe-to-toe with contemporaries like Vince Lombardi and Don Shula. In fact, Shula, one of only two NFL coaches with more career wins than Landry’s 250 (George Halas is the other), considers Landry’s Cowboys to be the toughest foe he faced. 

Landry played pro football in New York (with the Yankees and Giants), and began his coaching career there, too, as the Giants’ defensive coordinator in the late 1950s. But he returned to his home state in 1960 to make a star of the Cowboys. A Stetson would have been the obvious choice of headwear, but his fedora matched his memorably stoic demeanor. It was an unusual style, but it worked.

— Jenny Vrentas

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Gallery: Tom Landry’s Hat, Through the Years

 Special thanks to the Pro Football Hall of Fame for facilitating the photo at the top of this story.

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