Schramm remembers Redskins-Cowboys of old

November 22, 1990|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Sun Staff Correspondent

IRVING, Texas -- For Tex Schramm, today is a day for turkey, dressing and memories.

When the Washington Redskins play the Dallas Cowboys today at Texas Stadium, Schramm will remember the way they once were.

Most of all, he'll remember Clint Longley.

Longley's 50-yard touchdown pass to Drew Pearson with 28 seconds left on Thanksgiving Day in 1974 gave the Cowboys a 24-23 victory in one of the most memorable games of this rivalry.

"The way that guy came in and did a once-in-a-lifetime job was amazing," Schramm said. "He never did anything after that."

Longley, thrust into the lineup when Roger Staubach was injured, never quarterbacked the team to another victory. He was an Andy Warhol figure. He had his 15 minutes of fame and then faded away into obscurity.

Those were the days when the Cowboys-Redskins rivalry was larger than life.

But a lot of things have changed since those days. Schramm is now just another spectator. He left the team as president and general manager after Jerry Jones bought it in 1989 and fired coach Tom Landry.

Schramm himself was fired last month as the head of the new World League of American Football. He now spends a lot of time fishing in Key West, Fla.

"I'm finding out it's not so bad to wake up in the morning without something to worry about," Schramm said.

Unlike Schramm, Landry won't be at the game. Now a part-owner of the new San Antonio team in the WLAF, the wounds of his firing are still too raw for him to show up. Jones has offered to induct him into the Texas Stadium Ring of Honor, but Landry said he couldn't quite fit it into his schedule.

Schramm, though, can't stay away. After all, the Cowboys were virtually his invention. It was Schramm who pushed to make Dallas the second Thanksgiving Day site along with Detroit.

Most teams don't like playing on Thanksgiving. It breaks up their routine. But Schramm was a showman who recognized the importance of the exposure as he built the Cowboys into America's Team. Twenty straight winning seasons didn't hurt, either.

As the Lions struggled in the 1970s and 1980s -- in Detroit they still remember the 1962 upset of the Green Bay Packers that prevented the best of the Vince Lombardi teams from posting a perfect record -- Dallas became the showcase holiday game.

A Thanksgiving Day game in Dallas -- they'll be hosting the game for the 23rd time in the last 25 years -- has become something of a Norman Rockwell painting, a piece of Americana.

Alas, now both Detroit and Dallas are going nowhere. The Lions are 3-7 and are hosting the 3-7 Denver Broncos. The Cowboys bring a 4-7

record against the 6-4 Redskins.

Of the four teams appearing on the tube today, only the Redskins are likely to be in the playoffs.

Which explains why today's Washington-Dallas game lacks so much of the panache it once had. The Cowboys, who once had a 14-3-1 record on Thanksgiving Day, including a 3-0 mark against Washington, have now lost four straight Thanksgiving Day games

The Redskins hope to simply get a routine victory that will boost them to 7-4 and give them a major step toward a wild-card playoff berth.

lTC Becuase nine victories is likely to get a team a wild-card berth, the Redskins can then make it by beating the Indianapolis Colts and the New England Patriots even if they have problems in their three games against the Miami Dolphins, Chicago Bears and Buffalo Bills.

But the Cowboys have upset the Redskins in the second game of the past two seasons. Landry's last victory and Jimmy Johnson's first victory came against the Redskins.

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