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Join Date: Apr 2004
Cowboys' First QB Eddie LeBaron Dies
Love'em or hate'em now..........but this will always remain in my mind as the picture of ultimate class of a period long gone.
Eddie LeBaron, the Cowboys' first quarterback, dies at 85
Staff and Wire Reports
Published: 01 April 2015 09:43 PM
STOCKTON, Calif. — Eddie LeBaron, the Cowboys’ first starting quarterback, died of natural causes Wednesday.
LeBaron, a college football Hall of Famer and war hero, was 85.
LeBaron played at Pacific for coach Amos Alonzo Stagg and helped lead the Tigers to an undefeated season in 1949.
He later served as a U.S. Marine in the Korean War and was awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star for heroism.
At the dawn of the Dallas franchise in 1960, LeBaron was the Cowboys’ starting quarterback, coming out of retirement to join the expansion club two years after he led the league in passing as a member of the Washington Redskins.
To acquire LeBaron, the Cowboys traded their first- and sixth-round picks in the 1961 draft. Listed as 5-9 and weighing 166 pounds, LeBaron was reported to be even shorter and lighter. LeBaron may not have looked like much, but he had enough experience to withstand the growing pains of a fledgling organization while serving as a placeholder for Don Meredith, the former SMU quarterback who was groomed to be his successor.
“We started with nothing,” former coach Tom Landry recalled in 1989. “…The worst thing I ever did for Eddie was talk him out of being a lawyer in Midland. I guarantee you those guys took a beating. I hate to say those teams were awful, because it would be a discredit to those guys. But we were weak. We just didn't have enough personnel.”
In the Cowboys’ first season LeBaron didn’t win any of the 10 games he started as the Cowboys went 0 -11-1. It didn’t get much better in 1961, when the diminutive passer led Dallas to only four victories – two of which came in games he played as the backup. But in 1962, as Meredith’s involvement increased, LeBaron made his fourth Pro Bowl while averaging 8.7 yards per attempt.
“He had outstanding quarterback skills,” said former Cowboys linebacker Lee Roy Jordan, who joined the team in 1963, LeBaron’s last season in Dallas.
But LeBaron would soon walk away from football, ushering in the “Dandy Don” Era after playing 52 games, throwing for 5,331 yards and accounting for 45 touchdowns during his tenure in Dallas.
He later served as general manager for the Atlanta Falcons from 1977 to 1982 and was the league’s Executive of the Year in 1980. He also served on the NFL’s Competition Committee.
He is survived by his wife Doralee, sons Edward “Wayne” III, Richard and William, and five grandchildren.