Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Roger Staubach Speaks!

Above is a photograph of Roger Staubach in 1963, the year he won the Heisman Trophy while playing for Navy.  He's been a pretty big deal ever since:  After graduation and four years of military service, he spent 11 seasons as the quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys.  During that period, the Cowboys won five NFC titles and two Superbowls, and Staubach earned his way into the NFL Hall of Fame.  After his football career, he remained in Dallas, built a successful real estate company and with his wife raised five children.

Staubach is revered among Cowboys fans, but once he left the game he pretty much stepped back from the limelight.

I spent a couple years as a reporter in Dallas, and I can't remember a single time his name came up in the newsroom.  Everyone knew he was working in town and that he remained a staunch Cowboys fan, but his name never made it into the paper, apparently because he wanted it that way.  A friend who continued reporting in Texas for many more years said much the same thing -- that periodically he'd phone Staubach to ask about his business or political activities.  Staubach never returned a call.

Staubach wasn't just averse to journalists.  There were reports that he was asked to run for mayor, for the Senate, to be Secretary of the Navy.  Any number of philanthropic organizations in Texas must have begged him to serve as a high-profile representative.

Staubach just said no, many times.

There were little breaks in the silence.  Last year he was photographed, smiling proudly, as one of his daughters gave her acceptance speech after being elected to the Dallas City Council.

And in November 1911, Staubach penned a Veterans Day column for the Dallas paper arguing that military veterans made excellent employees.  That same year, he founded Allies in Service, a charity to provide assistance of all sorts to military veterans in the Dallas area.  But even then, the board of his charity consisted of him, a relative and a longtime member of his firm.

Staubach still was playing things pretty close to the vest.

So I was interested when I realized recently that after more than 30 quiet years Staubach seemed to be coming out of his shell.

I noticed this first last summer, when he agreed to sit for a long Saturday interview piece in the Wall Street Journal.  I realized I'd never seen a Roger Staubach interview before.

Then came football season, and all of a sudden Staubach and what appears to be one of his grandchildren were featured on a television ad for a car insurance company that serves military families.  Roger Staubach in a television ad!

Curious, I googled his name and found much more.

     -- A February piece in USA Today in which he discussed his decision to retire from football after a what may have been his 20th concussion.  He said he did not join the current lawsuit against the league by other former players because he said he had not suffered the brain injuries others have.

     -- Another February piece in Forbes titled "Roger Staubach from Cowboys QB to Real Estate Mogul."  In it, Staubach was called the highest-earning retired NFL player.
     The Dallas Morning News chased the story the next day.
     This football-to-business-success meme is golden.  When editors and newspeople at publications and television stations realized that Staubach might make himself available for interviews his phone must have started ringing off the hook.
     The story still is reverberating through the sports and business press.

     -- A vignette in SIKids, a sports magazine for young people.  The feature was "Sports Figures and Their Dogs," and the picture was of Roger Staubach sitting cross-legged on the floor with his Labrador, Ryan.  Staubach revealed that he and the dog like to go together to Starbucks, where he said the dog was fondest of pumpkin bread treats.
     Pretty charming, that.

America's quarterback is back.

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