[Cowboys 1960 Team photo]
February 29 is Leap Day, a date that usually occurs every four years during Leap Year. Leap Day is added to the calendar every four years as a corrective measure, because the Earth does not orbit around the sun in precisely 365 days.
Some of the most significant moments in Dallas Cowboys History have occurred during Leap Years, including the franchise’s first Super Bowl victory and the retirement of a legendary quarterback.
What will take place this particular Leap Year, 2016? If past is prologue, this coming 2016 Cowboys season could be a doozy.
Here are highlights of previous Cowboys seasons that occurred during Leap Years:
*1960: The expansion Cowboys play their first season in the NFL.
*1964: Tom Landry is signed to a 10-year contract extension while there is still one year remaining on his original contract. The 11-year deal is believed to be the longest in major pro sports history. The Cowboys finish the 1964 season with a record of 5-8-1 with DT Bob Lilly and FS Mel Renfro voted to the Pro Bowl.
*1968: The 12-2 Cowboys win the Capitol Division but lose to the Browns in the Eastern Championship Game. A week after the loss in Cleveland, the Cowboys beat the Vikings in the Playoff Bowl Game (also known as the Runner-Up Bowl).
*1972: The year starts off with a carry-over from the 1971 season. On January 16, 1972 the Cowboys defeat the Dolphins 24-3 in Super Bowl VI. It’s the first world championship for the Cowboys franchise.
*1976: In January of 1976, the Cowboys lost to the Steelers in Super Bowl X. During the 1976 regular season, the Cowboys finish 11-3 but lose to the Rams in the Divisional Playoff. Eight Cowboys were selected for the Pro Bowl including: Roger Staubach, Drew Pearson, Billy Joe Dupree, Rayfield Wright, Blaine Nye, Harvey Martin, Cliff Harris, and Charlie Waters. Don Meredith & Don Perkins were inducted into the Cowboys Ring of Honor.
*1980: Quarterback Roger Staubach retired from football in an emotional press conference at Texas Stadium on March 31st. Bob Lilly was enshrined in Canton at The Pro Football Hall of Fame on August 2nd. Tom Landry earned his 200th career victory on December 28th in a Wild Card playoff win over the Rams. Danny White led the Cowboys to a 12-4 record and two playoff wins, but Dallas to the Eagles in the NFC Championship Game.
*1984: The Cowboys are sold to an 11-member limited partnership which is led by H.R. “Bum” Bright. NFL Owners approved the sale of the club on May 18th.
*1988: In the season opener, Tom Landry tied former Packers head coach Curly Lambeau for the NFL record for most consecutive seasons (29) with the same team. But it was downhill the rest of the year. With Steve Pelleur at QB, the Cowboys struggle to a 3-13 record. It was the final season Landry would spend with the Cowboys as he would be fired by new team owner Jerry Jones in February, 1989.
*1992: The Cowboys finish the season 13-3 and go on to win the first of three Super Bowl Championships in the 1990s. The Cowboys’ victory over the Bills in Super Bowl XXVII occurred on January 31, 1993, but came on the heels of the outstanding 1992 regular season.
*1996: On January 28, 1996 the Cowboys beat the Steelers 27-17 in Super Bowl XXX.
*2000: Dave Campo is named head coach on January 26th, replacing Chan Gailey who was fired on January 11th after two years at the helm. On February 12th, Tom Landry died of leukemia at the age of 75.
*2004: Former offensive tackle Rayfield Wright and safety Cliff Harris are inducted into the Cowboys Ring of Honor at halftime of a game on October 10th. Two and a half weeks later, voters in Arlington, TX approve a referendum on a private-public partnership with the Cowboys for a new retractable roof stadium in Arlington.
*2008: The final game is held at Texas Stadium in Irving, a Cowboys’ 33-24 loss to the Ravens. In that last game, DeMarcus Ware recorded his 20th sack, a club single-season record.
*2012: The Cowboys finish the regular season with an 8-8 record. Jason Witten had a record-breaking year. In the 11/4 game at Atlanta he broke Michael Irvin’s team record for career receptions (750). On 12/3, Witten set an NFL record for most receptions by a tight end in a single season (110), breaking the mark previous held by Tony Gonzalez.