Happy Birthday Roger
About twenty odd years ago prior to a Super Bowl when the Cowboys won in '94, the league held an 'old-timers' game (they may still, I've long since stopped following the pre game hoopla) and members of the 1970's Dallas Cowboys took on assorted members of other teams from the 1960's and 70's.
Roger Staubach of course served as quarter-back and I don't remember the out come, what I do remember is an interview with Ed 'Too Tall' Jones a few weeks later on some TV special. Jones chuckled as he recounted the story of that old-timers game, a collection of now 50 and 60 odd year old arthritic men, shuffling stiffly around the field mostly smiling and giggling, just happy to be 'out there', except for Roger Staubach.
Too-Tall recounted that in the huddle, it was as if they were back in a tight game in Texas Stadium with the crowd roaring and Tom Landry watching from the sides - Roger was serious. Roger was determined and Roger wanted to Win.
I'd watched Cowboy football on Sunday afternoons with my family all through my 'formative' years, later as a young and finally now as the old man I've become, but for the first time on seeing that interview I realized what the burning fire of competitiveness actually means. First, last and always - Roger Staubach wants to Win, fair and square.
He wouldn't know the meaning of quit or giving up. And that's something that's in you, can't be taught or learned. Sometimes when life got tough for me - he was one of the inspiring figures of our time I'd think of, and keep moving on determined.
Roger the Patriot - Staubach attended the U.S. Naval Academy in a time when our military schools were super competitive on the gridirons of fall. In those days the Army-Navy game was a national sensation an annual event as big as Christmas, especially for the winners. At the '62 game, President John F Kennedy, fresh off the Cuban Missile Crisis, and a former WWII combat Naval officer himself - tossed the coin. That sunny afternoon Roger led Navy to a 34-14 upset over Army and later won the Heisman Trophy.
By the way, the Naval Academy retired Staubach's jersey number (12) during his graduation ceremony. After graduation, like millions of other young men his age he went to Viet Nam and served his country. Because of his colorblindness Staubach served as a Supply Corps officer at the Chu Lai port that supplied the Da Nang Air Base.
I'd bet my last dollar that military snafus and red-tape or not, the Competitor Roger kept on winning and those in the rice patty's and jungles depending on life supporting supplies passing through his domain never went without or had to wait.
The Cowboys had drafted Roger, and they regularly mailed him sacks of footballs to keep his arm in shape. Roger threw to his fellow soldier-seamen he shared his duty station with. Predictably a lot of those balls wound up in the hands of kids in the local villages.
Because of his service to his country, Roger Staubach started his professional career late in life with the Cowboys. But the single thing that marked his career was his never give up, never give in attitude. He fought to the end - inventing the "Hail Mary" pass, and the idea of a 'comeback win' in the NFL. I used to tell my little boys, the Cowboys could be two touchdowns behind with two minutes to play and still win the game.
Later his spirit and determination brought him to the heights of the global commercial real-estate profession where as always he fought fair and square earned the respect and admiration of his colleagues and competitors. He never forgot his friends either, helping countless former teammates and competitors adjust to the real-world struggles after the games in their lives had been played out.
Happy Birthday "Roger the Dodger" Happy Birthday 'Captain America" Happy Birthday Roger Staubach - and thank you for all the Sunday afternoon gifts to us and the lifetime of inspiration. The world is still a better place for having had you in it.