Because it's still the only sport that matters. Because it's that time of year again. Because they're our heroes. Ladies and gentlemen, the once and future kings of Texas football.
ROGER STAUBACH AND TROY AIKMAN
They connect the two great eras of Cowboys football. Neither is from Dallas, but their names conjure up the city like no others. Staubach started at quarterback from 1971 to 1979 and guided the team to two Super Bowl championships. Aikman led the ‘Boys from 1989 to 2000, helping them win three titles. Years later, they are both just as successful off the field. The 60-year-old Staubach runs his own commercial real-estate company in Dallas, and the 35-year-old Aikman works as a broadcaster for FOX Sports and lives in Plano with his wife, who at press time was about to give birth to their second child. Staubach’s and Aikman’s continuing popularity reminds fans of how much the Silver and Blue achieved during their heyday—and how long ago that seems today. Quincy Carter, over to you.
LADAINIAN TOMLINSON AND KEN HALL
Texas high school football had never seen a running back like Hall. Playing for Sugar Land in the early fifties, he rushed for 11,232 yards—a record that still stands (even Cedric Benson’s headline-making season at Midland-Lee two years ago left him more than 1,800 yards short). Hall continued his career at Texas A&M, where he played for Paul “Bear” Bryant, but never quite found his footing. Today the 66-year-old owns Ken Hall’s Barbecue Place, in Fredericksburg. A generation later, Rosebud native Tomlinson set a record of his own. Playing for Texas Christian University from 1997 through 2000, he set the Division I-A record for the most rushing yards in a single game—406 against the University of Texas at El Paso in 1999—and led the NCAA in rushing twice. He continues to impress in the pros: As a starter for the San Diego Chargers last year, Tomlinson led all rookies with 1,236 yards and ten touchdowns.
No one had a more-fitting set of initials. Dorsett, forever known as T.D., won the Heisman trophy at the University of Pittsburgh in 1977, came to the Dallas Cowboys as a rookie a few months later, and promptly ran his way to a Super Bowl ring. He played for the ‘Boys until 1987 (longtime fans like to forget that he finished his pro career with Denver), setting almost every Cowboy rushing record before Emmitt Smith came along. Still, Dorsett owns the record for the longest touchdown run from scrimmage in NFL history: 99 yards. Now 48, he lives in Dallas, where he gives the occasional speech and works in public relations.
KLIFF KINGSBURY, JAMES STREET, SAMMY BAUGH, AND MARK FARRIS
Throwing a football through a tire helped Baugh become one of the first great quarterbacks in the Southwest Conference. After growing up in Temple and Sweetwater, he did it all at Texas Christian University in the mid-thirties, winning a national championship in 1935 while playing quarterback, defensive back, and punter—usually in the same game. He went on to play sixteen seasons with the Washington Redskins, earning accolades and, for a while, the highest paycheck in the pros. Today the 88-year-old, a charter member of both the college and pro football halls of fame, lives on the Double Mountain Ranch northwest of Abilene, between Rotan and Aspermont. No slouch himself, Street led the University of Texas to an NCAA title in 1969 and, amazingly, never lost a game as a starter, finishing his college career at 20-0. (He never played as a pro.) Now 54, he lives in Austin and works as a financial planner. Kingsbury, a senior at Texas Tech University, is a Heisman trophy candidate this year and already owns 33 school records, including the most passing yards in a season (3,502) and eight Big XII records, including the most touchdown passes in a season (25). Farris, a senior at Texas A&M, set the Aggie record for the most passing yards in a season (2,551). Both are on track to be the most prolific passers in their schools’ history. So who’s better? Find out on October 5, when they go head-to-head for the final time in College Station.
It all started with the eyes. The most dominating middle linebacker of his era, Singletary terrorized his opponents with a ferocity that was matched only by the intimidation of his stare. From 1977 to 1980, the Houston native played for Baylor University, where he was named a consensus all-American twice and the Southwest Conference defensive player of the decade. Today, the 43-year-old still holds the school record for career tackles, with 662, which is a mere 282 ahead of the second-place mark. Of course, he had an astounding pro career as well, even if it did take him to Chicago, where he still lives and works as a public speaker. For twelve seasons he anchored the Bears’ defense, earning a Super Bowl ring in 1985 and a place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. And to think his father, a minister, never wanted him to play the game as a boy.
He didn’t attend Southern Methodist University simply to play football; the Beaumont native was also impressed with the school’s accounting department. So it makes sense that Levias, a wide receiver for the Mustangs from 1966 to 1968, became an all-American and an Academic all-American. He still holds school records for the most receiving yards in a season (1,131) and in a single game (213), but he is most famous for breaking the color barrier: He was the first African American to win a football scholarship to a Southwest Conference university. Now 55, he lives in Houston, where he helps run a marketing services company and a court-reporting business—though neither can pay him in dollars what he deserves in thanks for paving the way for those who came after him.
GORDON WOOD AND G. A. MOORE, JR.
The latter grew up worshiping the former. While playing for Pilot Point High School in the early fifties, Moore would accompany his coach on trips to pay respects to Wood, who was already a coaching legend. When Wood retired, in 1985, after a 43-year career, he had won 396 games and nine titles at seven high schools, more than any coach in the history of Texas football. Yet while those marks may have seemed as safe as Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak, today they are in trouble—and Moore is the reason. As the coach at his alma mater, the 63-year-old is just seven wins and two state titles away from breaking Wood’s records. But that hasn’t strained their long friendship; Moore visits the 88-year-old Wood in Brownwood frequently and shudders at the thought of eclipsing the man he has emulated for so long. “He’s still on a whole other level,” Moore says.
SPIKE DYKES, BUM PHILLIPS, AND R. C. SLOCUM
It has been said that if Phillips and Lyndon B. Johnson walked into a room at the same time, no one would doubt that ol’ Bum was a big shot. The Orange native coached the Houston Oilers from 1975 to 1980 and built the team into Super Bowl contenders, all the while wearing his cowboy hat. The 78-year-old now lives on his ranch outside Goliad. The 64-year-old Dykes, who grew up in Ballinger, led the Texas Tech Red Raiders from 1987 to 1999 and won more games than any other coach in the school’s history. He is now retired and lives in Horseshoe Bay. The 57-year-old Slocum, who grew up in Orange, is starting his fourteenth season as the head coach at Texas A&M, where he has won 117 games, the most in Aggie history. Gig ’em, indeed.