‘The Cowboys and the Indian’: Meet the man behind the Cowboys success

Meet A. Salem Qureishi — the man who “Moneyball-ized” the playoff-bound NFL franchise, the Dallas Cowboys.

Qureishi’s the leading man in Five Thirty Eight Signals and ESPN Film’s 30 for 30 13-minute documentary short, “The Cowboys & the Indian.”

Qureishi, who worked as an Indian-American IBM statistician and programmer, was the man who crunched the numbers, measuring players athletic abilities. His system drafted players from unknown schools like Calvin Hill, “Bullet Bob” Hayes, Rayfield Wright, Peter Gent and Cornell Green.

The film features Texas author Joe Nick Patoski, former Cowboys player personnel vice president Gil Brandt and Qureishi’s daughter Lubna Qureishi.

“If IBM can help send a man to the moon, surely it can help with a team in selecting football player,” said Lubna. “And his team was the Dallas Cowboys.”

The Dallas Cowboys have qualified for the playoffs for 9 consecutive seasons (1975 to 1983); they’ve won five out of eight Super Bowls (1995, 1993, 1992, 1977, and 1971); and appeared in the playoffs 30 times. That’s a pretty good record for an NFL team that started as a 1960s expansion team, getting all the other teams’ rejects.

“There’s a reason that the Cowboys, in my mind, have the greatest fan base in the world,” said Patoski, “and it all goes back from what they created out of nothing.”

The Cowboys are once again, playoff-bound for the 2014-15 season — which will be their first appearance since 2009. 

“The Cowboys and the Indian” was directed by Mark Polish and produced by Polish, Janet Du Bois and Bryan A. Shaw as part of Five Thirty Eight’s film series, “Signals.” 

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