I was flattered when the North Texas Super Bowl XLV Host Committee approached me late in 2009 to help construct and singularly author its prodigious Century in the Making project.
What started with 250 of the greatest moments in Texas football history -- high school, college and pro -- was whittled, thanks to fan and Internet voting, down to the Top 100 during the Super Bowl's stay in the metroplex. And the countdown from 100 to 1 climaxed last week with the release of the Top 10.
Of all the games and players and moments in the pigskin history of our state, there are 10 that stand out. The Hail Mary? Nope. Cowboys' back-to-back Super Bowls in the '90s? Sorry. Not even Masonic Home's 12 Mighty Mites, the Herschel Walker trade or TCU's undefeated season cracked a surprising -- but worthy -- Top 10.
Grab a blanket, pour some hot chocolate and sit a spell for a warm-n-fuzzy trip down memory lane.
10. June 8, 1966: Cowboys general manager Tex Schramm from the NFL and Kansas City Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt of the AFL merge the NFL and AFL. The meeting famously takes place beneath the Texas Ranger statue in the lobby of Love Field Airport.
9. April 23, 1989: Reaping the rewards of a 3-13 season under Tom Landry, the Dallas Cowboys new brain trust of Jimmy Johnson and Jerry Jones select Troy Aikman with the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft. After a rocky start, Aikman goes on to win three Super Bowls in Dallas.
8. January 28, 1996: Two weeks after his interception helped the Dallas Cowboys win the NFC Championship, cornerback Larry Brown intercepts two more as the Cowboys beat the Pittsburgh Steelers, 27-17, to win Super Bowl XXX in Tempe, Arizona. Brown, a former 12th-round draft pick afterthought from TCU, picks off quarterback Neil O'Donnell twice and is named Most Valuable Player.
7. December 8, 1948: SMU junior Doak Walker, ultimately a three-time All-American for the Mustangs, caps a magical season by winning the Heisman Trophy. A rare three-way player, The Doaker finished among college football's top five in rushing, scoring, interceptions and kicking while leading SMU to another Cotton Bowl.
6. 1966: Acting on a recommendation by Cowboys general manager Tex Schramm, the NFL awards the Cowboys a Thanksgiving Day afternoon game, giving Dallas the advantage of a home game on a short week and the league with a holiday double-header tradition led by the Detroit Lions.
5. August 22, 1959: Having been rebuffed by the NFL in his bid for an expansion franchise for Dallas, Lamar Hunt announces the formation of the AFL with his own Dallas Texans as a charter member. In response to the threat posed by Hunt, the NFL awards Clint Murchison the Dallas expansion franchise on January 28, 1960. Game on.
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4. December 28, 1959: Tex Schramm formally introduces Tom Landry to the media as the first head coach of the Dallas Rangers. That's right, the Rangers. Team owners Clint Murchison and Bedford Wynne, one day before, had signed the New York Giants' assistant coach to a personal services contract in which Landry would become head coach when the pair of businessmen were awarded an NFL expansion franchise.
3. October 27, 2002: Emmitt Smith darts left, then up the middle for a diving, 11-yard gain that breaks Walter Payton's NFL all-time rushing mark of 16,726 yards. Though the Cowboys lose to the Seattle Seahawks, 17-14, Smith enjoys an awkward post-game coronation and eventually finishes his career with 18,355 yards.
2. October 19, 1912: Oklahoma defeats Texas, 21-6, in the first Texas-OU game played in Dallas. The Red River Rivalry is permanently moved to the metroplex (first Gaston Park then, in 1932, to the Cotton Bowl) because the location is approximately halfway between the two college campuses in Austin and Norman.
1. January 16, 1972: Roger Staubach is named Most Valuable Player, but it's the Cowboys' Doomsday Defense that dominates in a 24-3 victory over the Miami Dolphins to win Super Bowl VI, the first in franchise history. Led by Bob Lilly's iconic 29-yard sack of Bob Griese, the Cowboys are still the only team to hold its Super Bowl opponent without a touchdown.