Clint Murchison Jr. was an entrepreneur, businessman and risk-taking founder of the successful Dallas Cowboys football franchise.
Son of legendary Texas oil man Clint Murchison Sr., he enlisted in the Marine Corps after the attack on Pearl Harbor, earned an electrical engineering degree from Duke University and a master’s in mathematics from MIT.
Working with his father and his brother John, the Murchison family diversified away from oil into homebuilding, general construction, real estate development, insurance, mutual funds, publishing, the leisure time industry and restaurant industry. Companies they owned included iconic names such as Centex Corporation, Alleghany Corporation, Henry Holt Publishing, Daisy BB Guns and Tony Roma’s, A Place For Ribs.
Clint believed there was an opportunity in Dallas for a successful professional football team. After several unsuccessful opportunities to buy existing franchises, including the San Francisco 49ers and Washington Redskins, Murchison was awarded an NFL expansion franchise that would begin play in the 1960 season.
Murchison quickly established his vision and then hired qualified executives to implement strategies to accomplish the goals. His hires included Tex Schramm as general manager and Tom Landry as head coach.
Murchison also valued loyalty. In 1964 and after the fourth losing season, many naysayers called for the firing of Coach Tom Landry. Instead, Murchison believed in his young coach and gave him an unprecedented 10-year contract that turned out to be a very successful move.
Under Murchison’s ownership the Dallas Cowboys delivered 20 consecutive winning seasons, 17 years of playoff appearances, five trips to the Super Bowl and two Lombardi trophies.
Historians credit the team’s success for giving the City of Dallas a point of pride and a way to recover from the assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963.
Murchison is also recognized as the father of the modern football stadium. Unable to strike a deal with city leaders to build a new stadium in downtown Dallas, Murchison selected a site in nearby Irving.
Taking a hands-on approach, Murchison led the concept, design, planning, financing and construction of Texas Stadium. He was determined to create a venue that protected fans while allowing the weather elements freedom to impact the game. The result was the famous Texas Stadium “hole in the roof.”
Texas Stadium redefined the sports stadium. It was the first to use seat option bonds to help fund construction and first to offer luxury suites on a commercial scale.
Failing health and changing financial markets forced Murchison to sell the Cowboys in 1984. He fought a rare nerve disease and died in 1987 at age 63.