In today's NFL with the salary cap we often get hung up on how much a guy gets paid. One Dallas Cowboy who never worried about it was Roger Staubach. At the end of Roger's career he was making $230,000 per year. That's right, some players make more per game now than he made in his career.
In 1979 he suffered a couple of concussions. After the season he saw a Doctor who advised him he needed to hang 'em up.
Staubach went to Tex Schramm and Tom Landry. Tex offered him the same money that the highest paid QB in the NFL was making at the time (Archie Manning), which was $750,000 per year. Roger turned to his Head Coach and asked him what he thought and Landry did not beg him to stay. Roger was nearing 40 and Landry had Danny White.
Roger would even say that if we had not had Danny White he would have taken the money. In other words, he wasn't going to leave the Cowboys without an able QB. The ultimate teammate.
Tex Schramm used Roger's lack of greed to his advantage. He often told other players that he could not pay them more than he was paying Roger. DD Lewis once confronted Roger about that.
Roger was a very strict Catholic in High School in Cincinnati, OH and he was being recruited by Notre Dame and Ohio State. Two of the biggest football programs in the country. Roger could have easily started for either school and with his running ability he still would have won the Heisman Trophy.
You may think that Roger had always dreamed of the military and that was why he signed at Navy, but you'd be wrong. He chose Navy because they wanted him to throw the football.
That seems really odd when you think about how hard it was for Tom Landry to keep Roger in the pocket. He was called Roger the Dodger not because of his arm, but his legs.
In today's college football mentality no one would choose a service academy over a powerhouse like Notre Dame, especially a Catholic. But in the 1960's the Naval Academy was a great football program and Roger was excited about the offer he got in HS.
He openly admits that if his parents had not been okay with him going away from his home area that he might have played at Xavier, a smaller school nearby. His parents saw the wisdom of how the Navy could boost his career and gave him their blessing.
Navy first sent Roger to the New Mexico Military Institute in Roswell. His Sophomore season he returned to the Naval Academy where at first he watched from the sidelines. He finally got some game action in a 21-0 loss to Minnesota, but he was 0-2 and was sacked twice. Probably by Carl Eller, who was on that Golden Gophers team.
The very next week Navy was again sputtering against Cornell and Roger was sent in. The result was 6 straight TD drives.
He was the starter from then on. In 1963, the year he won the Heisman Trophy Navy played Texas in the Cotton Bowl for the National Championship.
Can you imagine Navy, Army, or the Air Force Academy playing for the National Title today? Different era.
After graduating from Navy he went to Viet Nam. Anyone who has ever been in the military will tell you that you have to put your unit first. Roger could have easily applied for a stateside assignment. But he instead chose to go to Viet Nam where he worked in supply.
He could have played on the Navy service teams and prepared for the NFL. Instead he requested that his annual leave be at the time of the Cowboys training camps and whereas other military personnel took time off, Roger worked on his football.
Staubach was no stranger to work. Once his military career was over he spent his off seasons working for a Dallas based property management company. It was there that he learned his skills in real estate, property management and I assume construction. After football he came very close to becoming a billionaire from his business ventures. In 2008 the Staubach Company sold for a reported $613 million.
Back to football. He joined the Cowboys in 1969 and started one game for the injured Craig Morton. Had Don Meredith not retired after the 1968 season the QB corps in Dallas might have been the best ever. But Roger would have never got into a game in 1969 if he had not.
In 1970 he started 3 games. He watched the debacle that was Super Bowl V, often called the Stupor Bowl, from the sidelines. He has said he wondered if he could have won the game had he been inserted. You have to know that those first 2 season he threw 3 TDs and had 8 INTs. In other words his results and his confidence were not always on the same page.
Before the 1971 season he asked Tom Landry for a trade and Tom declined. In 1971 Craig Morton started the first game of the season but Landry alternated QBs, giving Roger the 2nd start, then Craig the 3rd, and so on for 4 starts for Morton. It was the weirdest circumstance I have ever witnessed.
I was a 7 year old kid who the year before had watched Super Bowl V and fell in love with the team in blue who had stars on their silver helmets. I had not however fallen in love with Craig Morton that day. My Dad loved him. I never did found out why. But I remember my Dad having a disdain for Roger because he loved Craig Morton.
I was 7, but I was enthralled by the game already. Especially the Cowboys. My first favorite player was Calvin Hill. That didn't last long. Once Landry gave Roger the ball permanently the Cowboys did not lose again the rest of the season. They rattled off 7 straight wins and then went on an amazing run int he post season that culminated in a thrashing of the high powered Dolphins in Super Bowl VI.
From that point on Roger was my hero and to this day he remains the player I am most enthralled with and I don't think that will ever change.
Roger once said, "I didn't do anything in real estate I hadn't done at the Naval Academy or in professional football, I worked my hardest and it paid off."
In the late 1980's Bum Bright put the Dallas Cowboys up for sale. Tex Schramm wanted to buy the Cowboys but did not have enough money. The first person he turned to was Roger Staubach. His real estate business was starting to take off, but he felt his business needed his undivided attention to succeed. He wasn't interested in buying the Cowboys. He recommended current Panthers owner Jerry Richardson and Richard Rainwater. Without Staubach as part of the package Schramm didn't meet his goal and Jerry Jones swooped in.
I gotta stop right here and say that if Roger had bought the team no one in the world could have been happier than me. I will allow some to be equally happy, but not happier. I think the world of the man, not just for his days as a Dallas Cowboy, but for the way he carries himself in every aspect.
Roger Staubach was the most vocal supporter of Jerry Jones from the Landry era players. He saw the energy Jones brought in and he felt the team needed that after Bum Bright.
This is largely why when Jerry wanted a Super Bowl in Cowboys Stadium it was Roger Staubach who led that team, once again to victory.
Staubach was a close personal friend of former Rangers owner, George W. Bush. When Bush was elected President in 2000 he asked Roger Staubach to become the Secretary of the Navy. It isn't the first time Roger has been approached about politics. For years the Republican Party has been after him to run for Senate or Governor in Texas where they know he would be a walk off home run victory. In fact, in 1994 he was being approached to run against Bush as the Governor of Texas.
Roger always has politely declined the political arena to focus on his team, in 2000 that was still the Staubach Company. Who knows, if he had run for Governor, he undoubtedly would have defeated Bush in Texas. Might he have then gone on to being our President instead? It is entirely possible. His appeal does not rest only in Texas.
Staubach was always able to get everyone around him to work together and that is what has made him a success at everything he applies himself to. With success sometimes comes ego. We definitely see that in Dallas with Jerry Jones who might possibly have the biggest ego in the country. I don't necessarily see that as a fault, but I do see it as a potential one. From 1994 to 2003 it was one in the annals of the Dallas Cowboys.
In Roger Staubach success has not produced ego. If anything it has produced an appreciation for the team he has always surrounded himself with and to which he has always been dedicated. Whether it was the Naval Academy, the Dallas Cowboys, the Staubach Company, or the Super Bowl Committee for North Texas, he has been a team first guy.
I can't begin to explain my admiration for this man. Oh how I hope our current players know his story. Not just as a team, but in life. Staubach became a wealthy man not as a football player, but he did use football to his best advantage. No reason why they can't too. No reason why they can't succeed as he did.
Provided that is, that they, like him, put team first.