Services scheduled for Cowboys legend George Andrie

George Andrie. (Family photo)
George Andrie. (Family photo)(KWTX)
Published: Aug. 21, 2018 at 3:56 PM CDT
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Services have been scheduled in Waco for NFL legend George Andrie, who was part of the Dallas Cowboys’ potent Doomsday Defense in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Andrie died peacefully Tuesday morning at his home in Waco to which his daughter, Margaret, and son-in-law Weldon Ratliff, helped him relocate from Michigan two years ago as his health declined.

He was 78.

A Rosary begins at 6 p.m. Friday, followed by visitation at Wilkirson-Hatch-Bailey Funeral Home at 6101 Bosque Blvd in Waco.

Mass of Christian Burial is at 1:30 p.m., Saturday at St. Louis Catholic Church at 2001 N 25th St.

Burial follows at Oakwood Cemetery.

His family says the cause of death was likely congestive heart failure, but Andrie also suffered from dementia they believe was caused by his playing days.

Andrie’s brain is being donated to a CTE study as the family continues a fight with the NFL over brain injuries caused by the sport.

Andrie was a four-time All-Pro and five-time Pro Bowler who played for the Cowboys from 1961-1972 and shared the defensive line with Bob Lilly, remembered as one of the greatest players in Cowboys history.

The way Lilly remembers it, however, is that Andrie, his friend of nearly 60 years, was the biggest contributor.

“We’re just close, very close off the field and on the field,” said Lilly from his home in North Dallas Tuesday.

“We go back a long ways. He came my second year with the Cowboys. He was a rookie and we hit it off immediately.”

The two were roommates from the start.

“We used to go to training camp in Thousand Oaks,” Lilly said.

“We spent six or seven weeks out there, so we got to know each other real well.”

Lilly couldn’t help laughing about some of the experiences he and Andrie shared, such as the time the two outsmarted coach Tom Landry who had observed that Andrie and Lilly were enjoying their meals a little too much.

“When we got a little older we had enough money to rent a TV and then when we got a little older we were able to rent a car.”

That car would take them to the nearest restaurant and bar where Lilly said he and Andrie would eat and eat and then eat some more.

“I think George got to 280 and I got to around 275,” Lilly laughed.

Landry decided to start fining the players $25 for every pound they gained over their weight limits, but the two came up with a plan to “help themselves” out, as Lilly described it.

Andrie and Lilly taped 30 cents to the bottom of a sliding scale that ended up manipulating the manual scale enough to give them an 8 ½ pound advantage.

Lilly said when he returned to training camp decades later, he flipped over the scale and guess what was still there.

“That thirty cents,” Lilly said.

One of his favorite memories was lining up alongside Andrie in the 1967 National Football League Championship game, which the sports media dubbed "The Ice Bowl,” at Lambeau Field where the conditions were fierce as temperatures hovered at 15 degrees below zero and wind chill readings were in the neighborhood of 48 below.

Lilly said as he and Andrie were leaving the Holiday Inn just outside of Green Bay for the game when Andrie had a thought about how they could motivate their younger teammates.

“He said well it’s already 10 degrees below zero,” Lilly said. “And you know we’re going to have to show these kids it’s not that bad. So he said ‘let’s go out there without our warmup jackets.”

Lilly said it’s the one time he wished he hadn’t listened to his friend.

“We did it but I ended up having ice cycles in my nose,” Lilly said.

Another ice storm hit the pair when they were flying out from a game in New York.

“The plane is taking to take off and the engine goes ‘kaboom, kaboom, kaboom,’” Lilly said. “

“We’re about 15 feet over water dodging boats and we were all saying prayers.”

The plane lost an engine, but ended up landing safely.

That was one of many trips around the world Lilly and Andrie would take together, and the football field wasn’t the only place they shared a passion.

They also both loved capturing sights and sounds in the cities they visited through the lens of a camera.

“We went all over everywhere we went and took pictures of all the sights in Washington, D.C.,and New York and Thousand Oaks. We shared a love of photography.”

Two things Lilly knows Andrie will be remembered for are his dry sense of humor and the toughness that landed him as one of the most feared defensive ends in the history of the NFL.

“Believe me if he could walk or crawl he would be out there. He was so low and so strong,” Lilly said.

“George never missed a two-a-day workout and he played 11 years. I’ve never known anyone in my life that never missed a two-a-day like that.”

Andrie and his wife, Mary Lou had seven children, and Lilly was a godparent to one of them.

Lilly says he’s going to miss his friend of 60 plus years, but he takes comfort in knowing that his friend never lost a trait that defined him.

“George never gave up,” Lilly said.

“As Cowboys we may have gotten beat but we never gave up. And George never gave up either."