By Doug Hare EBS STAFF
BIG SKY– On Aug. 3 along with eight other enshrinees, Gil Brandt was inducted into the 2019 Pro Football Hall of Fame class, receiving a gold jacket and unveiling his bust to rest alongside the other greats of the gridiron sport.
“My life has been an incredible journey, all inspired by football,” Brandt said during his acceptance speech in Canton, Ohio. “I’ve been fortunate to see the growth of this game the past 60 years.”
Brandt was not exactly a passive observer to the evolution of football. As the Dallas Cowboys’ vice president for player personnel from the inception of the franchise in 1960 through Jerry Jones’ purchase of the team in 1989, Brandt, by all accounts, revolutionized the art and science of scouting. Brandt is credited with developing the evaluation metrics that NFL teams use today, developing the use of psychology tests, and inventing the numerical expressions and formulas used by computers to assess athletic talent.
For 29 years, he excelled as the Cowboys’ personnel guru, working with other Hall-of-Famers coach Tom Landry and general manager Tex Schramm as the organization grew from a winless expansion franchise in its first year into “America’s Team,” winning two Super Bowls along the way. According to Forbes, the Dallas Cowboys are currently the most valuable sports franchise in the world.
Although when he bought the Dallas Cowboys in 1989, Jerry Jones fired Brandt along with Landry and Schramm, Jones was the presenter for the ceremony and Brandt wryly thanked Jones for making him a “free agent” three decades ago.
Since his tenure with the Cowboys, Brandt has remained active in the sport, garnering a reputation as a premier draft expert and revered analyst often appearing as a commentator on SiriusXM NFL Radio and other football-related media outlets in between visiting training camps.
The 86-year-old Brandt shows no signs of slowing down or retiring. “I don’t know what I’d do with myself with football in my life,” Brandt said over the phone. “I do know I look forward to getting back to Big Sky. It’s my favorite place in the world and I’ve been everywhere.”
Brandt, who first bought property in Big Sky in 1971, was flanked at his induction ceremony by three Big Sky locals: Brian Wheeler, Jamie Roberts and Al Malinowski.
“He was such a pioneer to the game, and he’s been an inspiration to me for achieving excellence and remaining humble for a longtime now,” Wheeler said. “It was amazing to see Gil not be able to walk twenty feet in Canton without someone stopping him to shake his hand and thank him for helping them somewhere along the way.”
“They call Gil the ‘Godfather’ on Sirius Radio, but he has also been the godfather to our local Big Brothers, Big Sisters Celebrity Golf Tournament,” said Malinowski, a longtime friend of Brandt’s. “He has been instrumental in getting it off the ground, reaching out to celebrities he knew to donate their time, and continued to generously support the event with his time and donations of sports memorabilia for the auction each year.”
Malinowski, former Lone Peak High School basketball coach, also recounted how Brandt would make an effort to visit a home basketball game every December.
“Soon after that, new water bottles or Gatorade towels would show up in the mail for our teams,” Malinowski said. “One year, he sent 15 travel backpacks for the team. Another time, he noticed one of our players wearing the same shoes he wore to school on the court. A brand new pair of Adidas basketball shoes in his size arrived in time for the next game.”