On Thursday (August 31), the Dallas Cowboys shared some devastating news with their fanbase and the NFL community at large. Gil Brandt, one of the most prominent football executives of all time, died on Thursday morning. He was 91 years old at the time of his death, but no cause of death was revealed.
His impact on the game of football is felt across the league and a lot of his methods, techniques, systems, processes, and ways of thinking are still being used by NFL executives to this day – even though he has been out of the league since 1988. He never played a single down in the NFL, but he didn’t ever have to.
Instead, he made his presence felt behind the scenes. His efforts as a scout and talent evaluator helped the Cowboys find skilled players where no one else was looking. He did things his own way and while that doesn’t always work in the NFL, he thrived and prospered with his unorthodox ideology and innovation.
In 1960, the Dallas Cowboys were nothing more than an expansion team ready to prove they belonged in the NFL. By 1980, the Cowboys were being dubbed ‘America’s Team’ after a short film by John Facenda coined the moniker. So, how did the team rise to fame so quickly? A lot of that credit goes to Gil Brandt.
Brandt played high school football (defensive back), basketball, and track, but wasn’t destined to play college sports and ended up leaving college (Wisconsin) after two years. He was actually working as a newborn photographer when he was hired as a part-time scout for the Los Angeles Rams in 1955.
He spent three years with the Rams before being hired as a full-time scout for the San Francisco 49ers in 1958. Two years later, he became the Cowboys’ chief talent scout – teaming up with Tex Schramm (who was the Rams’ former GM) and Tom Landry. The trio remained with the team for the next 29 years.
During that time, Gil Brandt helped revolutionize what it means to scout NFL talent. He invented a new system that utilized computers and technology, scouted prospects in other sports, started searching for talent outside of North America, utilized psychology tests, and helped create the NFL Scouting Combine.
Jerry Jones Remembers Gil Brandt as a ‘True Icon’ and ‘Pioneer’
On Thursday (August 31), Dallas Cowboys’ owner, Jerry Jones, released a statement that described Gil Brandt as a ‘true icon and pioneer of our sport.’ He commemorated Brandt for being at the core of the team’s early success and called him a ‘great ambassador for the organization’ for decades beyond that.
“He was an innovator and set the standard for excellence in player acquisition. From the creation of the NFL Combine to revolutionizing the NFL Draft, Gil finished his over six-decade NFL career with an eye towards the future of the league and teaching fans about the sport he loved as a radio broadcaster,” Jones wrote.
He remembered Brandt as a gifted storyteller with a ‘memory as sharp as a tack’ and couldn’t help but highlight his dedication to, and passion for the game of football. “There are very few people that have been able to have the kind of generational impact that he did,” Jones continued in his statement.
Gil Brandt has been celebrated in recent years, starting with his induction into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame on April 9, 2015. Three years later, on November 2, 2018, he became the 22nd member of the Cowboys’ Ring of Honor and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame three months later (February 2, 2019).
At The Buzzer, or ATB is the place for those who love sports, life, family, community, and so much more. We are far from the run-of-the-mill 24/7 sports news websites. We not only bring you what’s happening in the world of sports in terms of trades and breaking news, but we also bring you the news that goes on behind the scenes, like big life moments, and so much more. So take a minute and read one of our articles, we promise you won't regret it.