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91yrs Dellas Cowboys icon who took part in building the club into an America’s team answers his call..

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Gil Brandt, overshadowed by coach Tom Landry and general manager Tex Schramm in the trio that built the Dallas Cowboys into “America’s Team” in the 1970s, has died. He was 91.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame announced that Brandt died Thursday morning. The cause of death has not been released, but Brandt’s health had declined in recent years.

Brandt served as director of player personnel alongside the stoic, fedora-wearing Landry and the media-savvy Schramm, but he had to wait nearly 30 years longer to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

When Brandt was drafted as an assistant, his ability to remain relevant as the NFL adapted to social media was more than an innovation the Cowboys brought to the computerized draft process in the early 1960s.

“You can’t tell the story of the success of the Dallas Cowboys and their two decades of winning seasons from the mid-1960s to the mid-1980s without mentioning Gil Brandt,” said Hall of Fame President Jim Porter .

“To me,” said former Dallas linebacker Calvin Hill, a first-round pick in 1969, “Gil should have been No. 1 from a personnel standpoint.”

In 2019, Brandt finally joined Landry (1990) and Schramm (1991) in Canton, Ohio, always saying he never felt overshadowed. “I think we all have credit,” Brandt told The Associated Press before taking office.

“And I think Tex deservedly got more credit than me and Tom. Because he was really a media person. When somebody from Sports Illustrated called, they didn’t talk to Tom, they didn’t talk to me. They talked to Tex.”

Schramm, Landry and Brandt were together for the first 29 seasons of the franchise, with Brandt the last of the three seasons that went after Jerry Jones bought the team in 1989 and immediately fired Landry. Schramm resigned shortly after (Jones was GM for all 34 years he owned the team).

“How did Tex and Tom stay out of the shadows?” asked a laughing Cliff Harris, who considers his Hall of Fame career safe for Brandt, when he discovered him as an undrafted player out of tiny Ouachita Baptist in Arkansas. “Everyone was.”

Brandt said the late Raiders owner Al Davis tried to hire him before the 1989 draft, telling him he heard Jones fire him after the draft. Brandt didn’t believe it, and even if Davis had been proven right, Brandt said he probably wouldn’t have done it anyway, since Dallas had become home to Wisconsin natives.

The hatred of Jones did not last long for Brandt, who remained a presence at the club even though his health forced him into a wheelchair in the press box on match days. Brandt even asked Jones to be his host in Canton.

At Schramm’s urging, Brandt worked with IBM to create a system that assigned numerical values ​​to intangibles like character, competitiveness and “mental alertness,” as well as tangible metrics like speed and power. The numbers were recorded on punched cards and loaded into massive computers, allowing the club to rank the players.

Brandt liked to tell the story of Vince Lombardi criticizing the Cowboys by asking if their computers were down when Dallas held the 1964 draft pending medical information on Mel Renfro. The Cowboys drafted the future Hall of Fame defensive end in the second round.

“I think Gil was really ahead of his time in quantifying so many things in scouting,” Hill said. “They were able to look at all the individual things that are a player and a teammate and try to quantify that.”

While the Cowboys developed Hall of Fame star wide receiver Bob Hayes out of Florida A&M, they also landed the four-time All-Pro on the Utah State basketball court in Cornell Green.

Among the high draft picks from the bigger schools were many future stars, such as TCU’s Bob Lilly, the Cowboys’ first pick in the 1961 draft, and Alabama linebacker Lee Roy Jordan, their top pick two years later.

But Brandt’s list of lower picks or undrafted players, especially from smaller schools, stood out just as much. Brandt often mentioned Jethro Pugh, an unsung defensive lineman taken in the 11th round in 1965 out of tiny Elizabeth City, North Carolina.

Pugh played on the first five Dallas teams to reach the Super Bowl, as did Roger Staubach. The Hall of Fame quarterback was drafted in the 10th round a year before Pugh, and the Cowboys took him knowing that Staubach’s arrival would be delayed by five years due to his Navy commitment.

Brandt’s longevity also made him one of the few unofficial historians of the NFL. That role served him well as the league celebrated its 100th anniversary the same year he was inducted into the Hall of Fame. He had more than 150,000 followers on Twitter.

“I feel like I’ve reinvented myself,” Brandt said in 2019. “From somebody that did pretty good with the Cowboys to somebody that’s doing pretty good right now with social media.”

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