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Ernie Stautner died Thursday of complications from Alzheimer’s.  Stautner was 80.

Now, unless you know old-school football, you have no idea who Ernie Stautner was.  During the Dallas Cowboys rise to prominence during the late 60s, through the 70s & 80s, Ernie Stautner was Tom Landry’s defensive coordinator.  He later went on to coach Dallas’ first entry into the Arena Football League, the Texans.

While Landry may have developed the “Flex” defense, Stautner was its engineer.  After a career as an undersized defensive lineman for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Stautner constructed the Cowboys Doomsday Defense of the early 70s, and Doomsday II of the late 70s/early 80s.  Doubling as defensive line coach, Stautner developed great linemen like Bob Lilly, George Andrie, Larry “Bubba” Cole, Jim Jeffcoat, Ed “Too Tall” Jones, and Randy White and the late Harvey Martin (who later shared the MVP award in Super Bowl XII).

Ernie will be sorely missed.

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