Patera came to the Cowboys in the 1960 Expansion draft from the Cardinals. A dedicated student of the game, he was one of the first players to grasp Landry's complicated defense. He was the Cowboys first middle linebacker, although he was injured in the fourth game of the first season and only played 2 games the next season. His career cut short by knee injuries, he retired and became a coach. He went on to coach the Rams' Fearsome Foursome as well as the Vikings Purple People Eaters before becoming head coach of the expansion Seattle Seahawks in 76 where he stayed until 1982.
When his job with Coca-Cola fell through, he decided he better take the expansion Cowboys up on their offer for a job until he could find something better... He stayed for 28 years! One of the fastest LBs in the NFL, when Patera fell to injury in the 4th game of 1960, he became the starter in the middle for the team. He made the Pro Bowl and All-Pro in 62 and continued as starting MLB for six years. He served as an on-field coach and trained Lee Roy Jordan to take over his job, but injuries kept him as an active player through 67. He stayed on as the linebackers coach through 1989 when Johnson came in and cleaned house.
Chuck thought he was through with football when the Cowboys called him away from his gas station in 1961. He went on to become one of the most important players in their colorful history. He was selected as the MVP of SuperBowl V. He was selected as NFL All Pro at linebacker 5 times and to the Pro Bowl 6 times during his career. In 1966 he picked up a loose football and ran it back 97 yards for a touchdown against the Falcons. Enshrined into the Ring of Honor in 1977.
Howley now owns Happy Hollow Ranch in Wills Point, Texas.
Roy Jordan (1963-1976)
Lee Roy was All-Pro at middle linebacker for the Cowboys. Bear Bryant called Jordan "the finest athlete I ever coached." His teammates nicknamed him "Killer". Jordan was team captain for the defense and ran Landry's "Flex" defense on the field with unmatched intensity. He watched game film endlessly, his contract included a projector for his home. He intercepted 32 passes during his career, still a team record for linebackers. Jordan was enshrined in the Ring of Honor soon after Jerry Jones became owner of the Cowboys in 1989.
After starting out on the Taxi Squad as an offensive lineman he ended up being a fixture of the Doomsday Defense of the early 70s. His strength made him extremely tough against the run. Howley and Jordan got the press and the honors, but his teammates and opponents knew how good he was. In a 1970 game against Cleveland intercepted 2 passes in the mud to lead the team to a 6-2 victory and catapulted them into the playoffs.
Drafted out of Mississippi State in 68 in the 3rd round, he was considered too small for the NFL by many teams. After a year on special teams, one in the military and another as an understudy he took over for Howley in '73 at weakside LB. He remained there for 7 years, starting in 3 Superbowls. Never selected for the Pro Bowl or All-Pro, Landry called him Dallas' most underrated player.
A member of the "Dirty Dozen" of the 1975 Cowboy draft out of Arizona State, Breunig replaced Dave Edwards as outside LB in 1976. He was converted to middle linebacker to replace Lee Roy Jordan after his retirement, becoming only the third regular middle LB in Cowboy history. A perfect fit for Landry's complicated "Flex" defense Breunig was defensive captain. He was selected to three Pro Bowls (79, 80 & 82). He finished his career with 466 unassisted tackles, second only to Jordan in Cowboy history.
"Hollywood" Henderson (1975-1979)
One of the most controversial and colorful players in Cowboy history. A talented player, he was ferocious on special teams and by 76 he was starting at LB. He made national headlines when the week prior to Superbowl XIII he proclaimed that Steeler QB Terry Bradshaw "...couldn't spell cat if you spotted him the c and t." After the game, Bradshaw asked, "Ask Henderson if I was dumb today." Although he played brilliantly in that Superbowl he later admitted that he was snorting cocaine throughout the game on the sidelines. He drug abuse got worse and Landry was fed up and fired him during the 79 season. His was traded to the 49ers, then went to the Oilers and tried to catch on with the Dolphins. At 28 his career was over. After a jail sentence, he began rebuilding his life, joining AA and remarrying. He wrote an autobiography, "Out of Control: Confessions of an NFL Casualty", one of the most candid looks at the NFL from a players perspective. He now lives in Austin and is an alcohol and drug abuse counselor and motivational speaker.
"Gene the Hitting Machine" was one of the few bright spots for the Cowboys near the end of the Landry Era. He became the first Cowboy rookie to ever start at MLB when Breunig went down with injuries. In 85 he was entrenched as a starter and led the team in tackles with 128. His best season came in the 1-15, 1989 when he set a club record with 222 tackles and became the first Cowboy to be named All-Pro since 1985. Johnson's style favored more agile LBs so Lockhart was traded to the Patriots in 91 where he played for 2 seasons. He signed a quickie contract in 94 with the Cowboys and then immediately retired as a Cowboy. He lives in the Dallas-area where he owns a sports cafe and other business enterprises.
Drafted out of UCLA in 88, he became a starter in 1990 and led the team in tackles with 119. In 92 he moved to MLB and led the team in tackles again with 120 and intercepted a pass in the NFC Championship game against the 49ers. In the Superbowl he had 10 tackles, and was involved in the play that knocked Kelly out of the game in the 2nd quarter. He picked up a fumble in the 4th quarter and ran 9 yards for a touchdown. By 93 he was one of the top LBs in the league, finishing with 159 tackles and a Pro Bowl selection. After winning a second Superbowl he signed a large contract with the 49ers where he went on to win his 3rd Superbowl ring in 3 years.
Coakley (1997- )
Although he entered the NFL as a third round draft choice, the expectations for Dexter Coakley have been high since his first day on the job. He won with relative ease the starting job at weakside linebacker in his first week of training camp as a rookie. As anticipated, he has become a potent playmaker, and he has provided a spark for the Cowboys defensive unit two years running. Despite the fact that he was an undersized rookie from a small college, Coakley has made an impression on the rest of the NFL, playing with the poise of a seasoned veteran. None of these accomplishments came as a surprise to Coakley, who has been exceeding expectations and beating the odds throughout his entire athletic career. What he lacks in size, he more than makes up for in quickness, speed (4.3) and intensity. His enthusiasm for the game, aggressive nature and determination to succeed are perhaps the best package of attributes that any Dallas player has brought to the organization in recent history. Selected for his first Pro Bowl in 99.