The 1960 NFL expansion draft was the first National Football League (NFL) draft in which a new expansion team, named the Dallas Rangers, selected its initial players. The NFL awarded Dallas, Texas a franchise to compete for revenue with Lamar Hunt's Dallas Texans of the upstart American Football League. The Dallas expansion franchise was approved too late for it to participate in the 1960 NFL draft which had been held on November 30, 1959. Dallas is the only NFL expansion team to not have had the benefit of a college draft in its first year.
So that the Rangers (Cowboys) could become competitive with existing teams, the league gave them the opportunity to select current players from existing teams. That selection was provided by the expansion draft, held on March 13, 1960. In this draft, the Rangers chose 36 players from the existing 12 teams. The NFL also assigned the rights to 1960 NFL draft picks Don Meredith (who had been drafted by the Chicago Bears) and Don Perkins (drafted by the Baltimore Colts) to the Cowboys for a couple of future draft picks.
22 players made the active roster that season. 11 players played only one year with Dallas. Eight players (including Jack Patera, who was injured early in the 1961 season) played in 1960 and 1961. The three remaining players from the draft started for several years, including: Bob Fry, Tackle, 1960–64; Jerry Tubbs, Linebacker, 1960–66; and Frank Clarke, Wide Receiver, 1960–67.
On March 19, 1960, the Rangers renamed themselves the Cowboys.
Rules of the draft
According to a post on the Professional Football Researcher's Association forum, details have never been released to the public, and thus the exact nature of the expansion draft is unclear. In his autobiography, Tom Landry stated, “Each team would be allowed to protect twenty-five of the thirty-four men on its roster. Of the nine remaining names, we could pick only three from each team.”  However, there are at least two mistakes in that statement. First, the active roster limit at that time was thirty-six, not thirty-four. Second, there were at least two individuals chosen by Dallas who were not on active rosters at the time of the selections. Note in particular the selection of Joe Nicely, who was never on an NFL active roster. Thus, it would appear that teams could nominate players from their inactive rosters as well.
Mark Ribowsky: “The Cowboys were permitted to sign three players from each NFL team, choosing from among eleven players left unprotected from each thirty-six man roster in an expansion draft to be held in February.” Again, nothing is said here about players not on the active roster, and Ribowsky has the date wrong. Perhaps the best conclusion is that teams were allowed to protect twenty-five players, active or inactive, and Dallas could choose from the remainder.
More from Landry, “ . . . each time we picked a player off the unprotected list, a team could remove another from that list.”
- The team was renamed the Dallas Cowboys six days later.
- Buck, Ray (2008-02-15). "From meager beginnings to America's Team". Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
- "Cowboys draft for 1960". Dallas Morning News. Retrieved 2008-09-22.[permanent dead link]
- "Pro Football History". Pro Football Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2008-09-22.(listed as the Dallas Rangers)
- "1960 Expansion Draft". 2008-09-28. Archived from the original on January 5, 2009. Retrieved 2008-09-22.
- Landry, Tom (1990). Tom Landry: An Autobiography. Grand Rapids, Michigan, and New York: Zondervan Publishing House and HarperCollinsPublishers. pp. 130-131. ISBN 0-310-52910-7.
- Neither pro-football-reference.com nor NFL.com/players has an entry for Nicely.
- Ribowsky, Mark (2014). The Last Cowboy: A Life of Tom Landry. New York: Liverright Publishing Corp. p. 180. ISBN 978-0-87140-748-1.
- "1960 Dallas Cowboys Starters, Roster, & Players". Pro Football Reference. Retrieved January 25, 2017.