Commentary

Staubach has the ball in his hands again

Who better to ensure a successful Super Bowl XLV than legendary former Cowboy?

Updated: January 26, 2011, 2:44 PM ET
By Todd Archer | ESPNDallas.com

IRVING, Texas -- Those feelings inside Roger Staubach are bubbling again.

His competitive nature is starting to show, and ex-teammates, friends, business associates and opponents know what that means. The Hall of Fame quarterback delivered 23 come-from-behind victories in the fourth quarter during his career with the Cowboys.

"You kind of have the good jitters," Staubach said.

[+] EnlargeRoger Staubach
AP Photo/Sharon EllmanRoger Staubach turns 69 the day before Super Bowl XLV, which he helped bring to Cowboys Stadium.

As chairman of the North Texas Super Bowl XLV Host Committee, Staubach is about to start another two-minute drill that will end whenever Pittsburgh or Green Bay lifts the Lombardi Trophy he will carry onto the field at Cowboys Stadium on Feb. 6.

He wants Super Bowl XLV to be the best ever and the first of many in North Texas.

"Everybody that has been involved with this feels the same way," Staubach said.

Staubach's role should come as no surprise.

When Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones thought about making a bid on a Super Bowl, even before an ounce of dirt was moved to build the stadium in Arlington, he knew he would ask for Staubach's help.

Staubach has not played in an NFL game since Dec. 30, 1979, or played in a Super Bowl since Jan. 21, 1979, or won a Super Bowl since Jan. 15, 1978, but to a generation of fans he is the face of the NFL. To a large segment of Cowboys fans, he remains Captain Comeback, Roger the Dodger and the quarterback of God's team.

"I'm not really a big shot anymore," said Staubach, who turns 69 the day before the Super Bowl.

Staubach is being modest. He is a big shot. A very big shot.

"Even within the icons of the sport, he's an icon of the icons," Pro Football Hall of Fame vice president Joe Horrigan said.

All-American

Staubach's image remains as wholesome today as it was when he won the Heisman Trophy in 1963 while starring at Navy. He and his wife, Marianne, have been married for 44 years. They met in Cincinnati when they were in fourth grade. They have five children and 13 grandchildren.

[+] EnlargeStaubach Heisman
AP Photo/Jacob HarrisRoger Staubach won the 1963 Heisman as a junior after leading Navy to a 9-1 record.

He was asked by President George W. Bush to be the Secretary of the Navy. He was asked to run for political office. Each time he declined.

Tom Lynch was Staubach's center at Navy and would go on to become an admiral and superintendent of the academy. When he was asked about Staubach in 1963, he gave the same answer he gives today: "Roger is the most genuine person I've ever known, the finest person I've ever known."

Lynch asked, "How do you spend your life in the limelight as he has and have not one person can say anything negatively?"

Before Staubach could join the Cowboys, he served a tour in Vietnam. He handled shipping and receiving in Chu Lai. He threw passes and ran sprints when he was off duty. The open field became known as Staubach Stadium.

"You never heard him complain and never heard about him trying to get out of his commitment," Lynch said. "But he just did right by the things he did and the commitment he made."

A few years ago, when a soldier walked on to an airplane, Staubach willingly gave up his first-class seat and sat in coach. When the flight attendant offered up another first-class seat, Staubach told her to give it to a female soldier with a prosthetic leg. When a former Navy teammate could not afford to get to a reunion a few years ago, Staubach paid for the arrangements.

"That's Roger Staubach," Lynch said. "For all the stories we know about, think about the ones we don't."

Leader, teammate, Cowboy

He led the Cowboys to five Super Bowl appearances. They won two. He was named to the Pro Bowl six times. He was a four-time NFL passing champion. At the time of his retirement, his 83.4 passer rating was the best in NFL history.

In 1983, he was inducted into the Cowboys Ring of Honor. In 1985, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

When former teammate Bob Hayes was going through tough times after his playing career, Staubach was there to help with a job.

"Everybody has their faults, but I haven't seen any with Roger," said Hall of Fame running back Tony Dorsett. "I'm sure he has his, but he's just a great guy. He's handled himself well with class and everybody looks up to him. If you had children, you'd say you want him to be like Roger Staubach."

Jason Witten was born three years after Staubach played his final game with the Cowboys. A few years into a career that could eventually see him end up in the Hall of Fame and Cowboys Ring of Honor, Witten played in a flag football game with Staubach as his quarterback. The tight end quickly realized this would not be a meet-and-greet type of event. Staubach wanted to win and he was going to throw the ball to Witten. After an overthrow, Staubach implored Witten to run harder. Witten did, catching a touchdown pass while falling over a photographer.

"When you play this game long enough, you realize that you probably made somebody angry along the way," Witten said. "I don't know how he did it, but there doesn't seem to be one person saying a negative thing about him still to this day. That's the kind of image we all want to have as a player when you come here. You know you will never reach it, but what he represents both on and off the field with his image, who he is and how he carries himself as a player and a person exemplifies what it's all about."

An inspiration in business and life

In 1971, Staubach went to work in real estate under Henry S. Miller to supplement his football income. The Staubach Company, a commercial real estate brokerage firm, was born in 1977. It grew into a company of 1,600 employees that served more than 3,000 clients across North America. By 2007, it had done $28 billion in business.

In 2008, Jones Lang LaSalle bought the company for $613 million. Staubach remains the executive chairman.

He has walked with presidents and the top businessmen in the world while maintaining a commoner's touch.

Chris McCoy carried on Staubach's legacy as a quarterback at Navy. In his first start on Sept. 9, 1995, he ran for 273 yards -- a record for a player in his NCAA debut -- in a 33-2 win against SMU as Staubach watched from the stands. The words Staubach said to the team before and after the game stick with McCoy today.

[+] EnlargeRoger Staubach
AP Photo/David J. PhillipAs chairman of the North Texas Super Bowl XLV Host Committee, Staubach will hand out the Lombardi Trophy to the winning team on Feb. 6.

Maybe it is just a coincidence, but McCoy went into property management after his obligation to the Navy ended.

"You want to live up to your expectations in general, but when you're in the presence of Roger Staubach you want to live up to his expectations as well," said McCoy, who is the general manager of the Peachtree Mall in Columbus, Ga.

The final countdown

Back in May 2007, Staubach stood in front of NFL owners in Nashville and made his pitch to bring the Super Bowl to North Texas. To some, he was the Hall of Fame quarterback. To others, he was that and also the decorated businessman.

"It's amazing how fast the time has gone," Staubach said.

As Super Bowl XLV week approaches, there are loose ends that need to be tied together. More than 200,000 people are expected to visit North Texas. The projected economic impact of the Super Bowl exceeds $500 million.

Staubach speaks daily to Bill Lively, CEO of the host committee -- "Bill has been a godsend for me," Staubach said -- about the to-do list that has grown shorter but more detailed in recent weeks. Staubach believes Cowboys Stadium will be the star of the week, and it promises to put a lot of cash in the NFL's hands. He hopes the weather will cooperate, and it is a wonder that he can't control that.

"We know the stadium's going to deliver," Staubach said. "Now we just have to deliver and make sure that everybody feels good about the experience."

It's the fourth quarter. Roger Staubach has the ball. Would you doubt him?

Todd Archer covers the Cowboys for ESPNDallas.com.

Todd Archer

ESPN Dallas Cowboys reporter

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