Gil Brandt
refer to caption
Brandt in 2009
Personal information
Born:(1932-03-04)March 4, 1932
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S.
Died:August 31, 2023(2023-08-31) (aged 91)
Dallas, Texas, U.S.
Career information
High school:North Division (Milwaukee)
Career history
As an executive:
Career highlights and awards

Gilbert Harvey Brandt (March 5, 1932 – August 31, 2023) was an American professional football executive who was the vice president of player personnel in the National Football League (NFL) for the Dallas Cowboys from 1960 to 1988. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2019.

Early years

Gilbert Harvey Brandt was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on March 5, 1932.[1][2] He attended North Division High School where he was a 150-pound starting defensive back.[3] He also lettered in basketball and track.[4]

Brandt enrolled at the University of Wisconsin, but left after two years.[4]

Professional career

Gil Brandt's name as a member of the Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor at AT&T Stadium.

Brandt worked as a photographer who specialized in newborn babies and was employed as a part-time scout for the Los Angeles Rams based on a recommendation by Elroy Hirsch.[4] In 1958, he was hired as a full-time scout by the San Francisco 49ers.[5]

Brandt served as the Dallas Cowboys' chief talent scout from the club's inception in 1960.[5] He had served as a part-time scout for the Los Angeles Rams under general manager Tex Schramm in the 1950s. When Schramm took command of the newly formed Dallas franchise in 1960, Brandt was one of the first people he hired. Schramm, Brandt and Coach Tom Landry formed the triumvirate which guided the Cowboys for their first 29 years.[3]

Brandt helped pioneer many of the scouting techniques used by NFL clubs today,[6] such as:

Brandt also made a reputation of acquiring high draft choices by making impactful trades, which were used to select players like Randy White, Ed "Too Tall" Jones, and Tony Dorsett.[15]

Brandt's dismissal from the Cowboys on May 2, 1989, completed a purge that began with Jerry Jones' purchase of the franchise just over nine weeks prior on February 25 and also resulted in Landry's ouster and Schramm's resignation.[16]

Following the death of Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Dwayne Haskins on the morning of April 9, 2022, during an interview on a Sirius XM NFL radio show later that same day, a host asked Brandt for his thoughts. Brandt replied that Haskins was "living to be dead, so to speak," and claimed that draft evaluators had criticized Haskins for his work ethic during his transition from college football to the NFL, stating, "It was always something. It was one of those, 'I'm not offsides, but they keep calling me for offsides.' It's a tragic thing. Anytime somebody dies it's tragic, especially when you're 24 years old and you've got your whole life ahead of you. Maybe if he'd have stayed in school an [extra] year, he wouldn't do silly things."[17]

Brandt's comments generated significant controversy, including from several other current and former NFL players like Haskins's former teammate Cameron Heyward, who called Brandt's comments "disgraceful,"[18] and former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant, who called Brandt's comments "unacceptable."[19] Several called for Brandt to lose his job in NFL radio over the comments.[18][20] Brandt later apologized for the comments in a statement on Twitter, saying he "reacted carelessly and insensitively" and apologizing for his "poor choice of words."[17][21]

Personal life

After a few years out of football, Brandt returned as a print analyst and draft expert.[22] He contributed to as a senior analyst and was a major contributor in selecting the Playboy All-American football team. Brandt had also been responsible for inviting collegiate players to the NFL Draft every year. He was a regular on SiriusXM NFL Radio as a commentator on "Late Hits", "The Endzone", and the "SiriusXM NFL Tailgate Show".[23]

Brandt was inducted into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame on April 9, 2015.[24]

Brandt was announced as the 22nd member of the Cowboys' Ring of Honor on November 2, 2018.[25]

On February 2, 2019, it was announced at the annual NFL Honors Awards that Brandt was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and his bust was sculpted by Scott Myers.[26]

Brandt and his wife Sara were married for 34 years.[5] He died in Dallas on August 31, 2023, at the age of 91.[2][10][27]


  1. ^ Gil Brandt [@Gil_Brandt] (March 4, 2022). "Today I celebrate … 90 years ... Thank you Sara for the wonderful surprise this morning" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  2. ^ a b Sandomir, Richard (September 1, 2023). "Gil Brandt, 91, Dies; Helped Make the Cowboys 'America's Team'". The New York Times. Retrieved September 1, 2023.
  3. ^ a b Battista, Judy (August 31, 2023). "Gil Brandt dies at 91: Godfather of modern scouting helped build Dallas Cowboys into 'America's Team'". Retrieved August 31, 2023.
  4. ^ a b c McGinn, Bob (February 21, 2009). "Brandt has left brand". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved February 19, 2023.
  5. ^ a b c d Watkins, Calvin (August 31, 2023). "Gil Brandt, an NFL pioneer with the Dallas Cowboys, dies at 91". The Dallas Morning News. Retrieved August 31, 2023.
  6. ^ "There Are No Holes at the Top". Retrieved February 19, 2023.
  7. ^ "Finding Giants: NFL scout's life not for the pampered". Retrieved February 19, 2023.
  8. ^ "Cowboys believe in analytics, but instincts as well". Retrieved February 19, 2023.
  9. ^ "The Man Who Devised the Formula to Find NFL Stars". The Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on December 5, 2022.
  10. ^ a b c d "Gil Brandt left a lasting legacy on the Cowboys, NFL". Dallas Cowboys. August 31, 2023. Retrieved August 31, 2023.
  11. ^ "Toni Fritsch: The Austrian futbol star who helped change football as Cowboys' kicker". Retrieved February 19, 2023.
  12. ^ "NFL world pays tribute to longtime Cowboys exec, NFL innovator Gil Brandt after death". For The Win. August 31, 2023.
  13. ^ a b Don Pierson (May 29, 1988). "NFL teams put potential stars to the test with exam". Beaver County Times. Retrieved February 19, 2023.
  14. ^ Jeff Sullivan (August 2, 2019). "Gil Brandt's HOF Moment Has Finally Arrived". Dallas Cowboys. Retrieved February 19, 2023.
  15. ^ Gil LeBreton (September 3, 1985). "Not easy to trade a veteran". The Lewiston Journal. Retrieved February 19, 2023.
  16. ^ "Brandt Latest to Be Fired in Purge of Cowboys". Los Angeles Times. May 3, 1989. Retrieved February 19, 2023.
  17. ^ a b Kika, Thomas (April 10, 2022). "Gil Brandt Apologizes for 'Disgraceful' Comments About Dwayne Haskins Dying". MSN.
  18. ^ a b McGonigle, Justin (April 9, 2022). "Gil Brandt Should Never Have Another Interview After His Despicable Comments on Haskins Death -". Steeler Nation.
  19. ^ Pantuosco, Jesse (April 9, 2022). "Former NFL exec Gil Brandt criticizes late Steelers QB Dwayne Haskins in tone-deaf interview". Audacy. Retrieved April 10, 2023.
  20. ^ Whitt, Richie (April 9, 2022). "Dwayne Haskins Death: Cowboys Icon Gil Brandt Should Lose NFL Job Over Outrageous 'Eulogy'". FanNation: Dallas Cowboys News, Analysis and More. Retrieved April 10, 2023.
  21. ^ "Ex-Cowboys executive Gil Brandt apologizes for comments regarding Dwayne Haskins' death". The Dallas Morning News. April 10, 2022. Retrieved April 27, 2023.
  22. ^ "Gil Brandt Amazing Memory". Retrieved February 19, 2023.
  23. ^ "Brandt, who helped build 'America's Team,' dies". August 31, 2023.
  24. ^ "Gil Brandt Profile". Retrieved February 19, 2023.
  25. ^ Knoblauch, Austin. "Gil Brandt enshrined into Cowboys Ring of Honor". Retrieved November 5, 2022.
  26. ^ Moore, David. "Former Cowboys vice president of player personnel Gil Brandt named to 2019 Hall of Fame class". The Dallas Morning News. Retrieved November 5, 2022.
  27. ^ Alper, Josh. "Pro Football Hall of Famer Gil Brandt dies at 91". Retrieved August 31, 2023.