Tom Landry, who took the Dallas Cowboys to five Super Bowls, is in a different kind of battle now. He has been diagnosed with leukemia, and is undergoing chemotherapy.
Former quarterback Roger Staubach, who won two Super Bowls with the Cowboys, said Saturday that Alicia Landry, the 74-year-old Hall of Fame coach's wife, said doctors diagnosed the disease last Monday.
"I talked to Alicia, and she said a blood test showed signs of anemia and that Tom had a form of leukemia," Staubach said. "She said he had a good shot at remission because they caught it in the early stages."
"She said the doctors were on top of the situation."
Calls to Landry's home by The Associated Press went unanswered Saturday.
Landry has been undergoing chemotherapy in the first week of his hospital treatment, said Staubach, who would not say where Landry was being treated.
"They aren't sure how long he will be in the hospital," Staubach said.
Landry had a checkup after feeling tired lately.
"He just wasn't feeling right," Staubach said. "But he's a tough guy and in good shape, and he's going to make it."
There are several types of leukemia, a cancer that impairs the production of blood cells.
In all types, abnormal white cells proliferate in the bone marrow, crowding out healthy blood cells. Other organs, such as the liver, spleen or lymph nodes, might stop functioning properly if infiltrated by the leukemic cells.
Leukemia is curable, with transfusions, anti-cancer drugs and radiation therapy.
Landry, the third-winningest coach in NFL history, ran the Cowboys for 29 years, beginning with the initial season of the franchise in 1960. His final season was 1988, and he was fired after Jerry Jones bought the team in 1989.
He ended his career with a 270-178-3 record, including playoffs, and led his team to a record 20 consecutive winning seasons, from 1966 to 1985. Under Landry, the Cowboys went to the Super Bowl five times, winning Super Bowls VI and XII.
Landry was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1990 and was included in the Cowboys' Ring of Honor in 1993.
Since being fired by Jones, Landry has devoted his time to speaking engagements, appearances on behalf of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and evangelist Billy Graham, and business interests with his son.
Former Cowboys president Tex Schramm, who hired Landry as coach, called the news shocking
"But in a way, I knew that something was wrong," Schramm said by telephone from Florida. "I saw Tom two weeks ago at his golf tournament and, in fact, I introduced him at a dinner, and he didn't look good."
"He looked wrong and was not a healthy person."
Schramm noted that Landry had a respiratory illness earlier in the year.
"He had been in the hospital with double pneumonia, and I didn't know whether it was omething he was still getting over," Schramm said.
Before joining the Cowboys, Landry was a defensive assistant with the New York Giants, where he had been a mainstay in the secondary through 1955.
Landry's defense was largely responsible for the Giants' success in the late 50s. They won the NFL championship in 1956, and lost in the title game in 1958 and 1959.
Prior to his pro career, Landry played at the University of Texas, where he met his wife. They had three children, Tom Jr., Kitty Landry Phillips and the late Lisa Landry Childress.
In 1995, Mrs. Childress died after a four-year battle with liver cancer. She rejected her doctor's advice four years earlier to begin chemotherapy immediately for fear of putting her unborn child's life in danger.
In the end, her decision to delay cancer treatment made no difference in her fate, her husband said at the time. The couple's daughter, Christina Alicia Childress, was born in August, 1991.
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