The halls of Pro Football History are lined with the number 12. Countless legends have worn it: Terry Bradshaw, Bob Griese, Joe Namath, Jim Kelly, John Brodie, Randall Cunningham, Ken Stabler, and active players like Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers... the number 12 has become synonymous with great quarterbacks.
With 12 days until what fans hope will be a memorable season for the Dallas Cowboys begins, we are continuing our Countdown To Kickoff with perhaps the greatest one of all.
The Following Players Have All Worn 12 For The Dallas Cowboys:
- John Roach, QB
- Roger Staubach^, QB
- Ron Widby, P
^Pro Football Hall of Famer
There is a man, an icon, a legend, a universally treasured Dallas Cowboy that also slipped the number 12 over his shoulders during his football playing days. He is much more than an amazing football player; he is an amazing person in every conceivable way.
Not only does this #12 transcend all of the players that have worn it for the Dallas Cowboys, but he he transcends the entire history of the Dallas Cowboys franchise. We are talking about a player who is, across multiple generations, regarded as the best.
Every day since June 6th we have used our Countdown To Kickoff series to highlight the Greatest Cowboys to wear each individual jersey number. While we are certainly continuing that tradition today, this Cowboy carries a badge of honor that only one can tout.
It is my absolute privilege to present to you:
The Greatest Dallas Cowboy Of All-Time: Roger Staubach
In 1963 the United States Naval Academy boasted one of the finest football players all across the land. He was an improvisational type of quarterback, one who opposing defenses seemed incapable of containing with his quick feet and iconic escapability.
Roger Thomas Staubach - hailing from Cincinnati, Ohio - was the talk of the country as he quarterbacked the Midshipmen. His offensive linemen raved about how it was such an adventure to block for him because one second he’d be on the left side of the field and then dash his way to the right - you never knew where he’d be!
Where he was happened to be smack dab in the middle of the college football universe. Roger was widely regarded as the best player in the game in 1963. This popular opinion turned stone cold fact when Roger Staubach won the Heisman Trophy in 1963, making him the second person out of the Navy to win the award (and most recent).
1964 NFL Draft
During the early days of the NFL there were such things as “future picks.” These allowed NFL clubs to draft players and obtain their rights while said players still had college eligibility that they fulfilled. It was like calling dibs on that last slice of pizza while it's still dough.
The Dallas Cowboys brain trust had heard whispers of that kid out of the Navy that won the Heisman. He was supposed to be pretty good, right? They deemed Staubach worthy of their 10th round pick, 129th overall, and were ready to roll. All they had to do was wait for him to fulfill that college eligibility, right?
One year later in 1965, another Cowboys “future pick” from the year before joined the team. His name was Bob Hayes. Where was his fellow draftee Roger Staubach?
The Navy And Vietnam
Part of the reason that Roger Staubach slipped all the way to the 10th round in that 1964 Draft revolved around much more than his remaining year of college eligibility. While, yes, Staubach returned for one more year to play football for the Navy… he still owed them four years of Naval service after that.
Beginning in 1965, while his Dallas Cowboy teammates were training for football, Staubach was fulfilling his commitment to the United States Navy. During this time he’d work on his throwing mechanics as much as he could, receiving footballs from Gil Brandt to toss around wherever he was.
In the middle of his Naval service Staubach volunteered for a one-year tour of duty in Vietnam. The former Heisman Trophy Winner, who belonged to the Dallas Cowboys, was as far away from the game of football as he had ever been.
How incredible is it that Roger Staubach, over the course of four years, served his country and managed to maintain his football skills at the same time? Think about it for a second. Imagine if the reigning Heisman Trophy Winner, so in this case Marcus Mariota, was drafted and unable to play for four years. The speculation about his return, if even possible, would be never-ending.
Roger Staubach fully planned on playing professional football after he completed his time in the Navy. Could someone actually win the Heisman Trophy, take four years "off" (in the Navy no less), and return to compete at a legitimate level? We were about to find out.
1969: The Return Of Roger
When on leave, and while the other Navy members were fulfilling their own commitments or getting some much needed rest and relaxation, Roger Staubach spent his time training with the Dallas Cowboys.
His dreams and aspirations of being an NFL quarterback were alive and well, and when he returned in 1969 as a 27-year-old rookie he was ready to prove it.
Those first two seasons in Dallas belonged primarily to quarterback Craig Morton, who was drafted in the same year that Roger’s Naval duties began. He was a fine quarterback, and he even took the Cowboys to the Super Bowl in the first season of NFL-AFL merger in 1970… just barely losing to the Baltimore Colts.
Entering the 1971 contest Roger Staubach knew that he had the goods to play quarterback in the National Football League. He also knew that at 29 years old he needed to begin his career before it was too late. He petitioned to Head Coach Tom Landry to either start or be traded.
Tom Landry is arguably the finest mind to ever grace the sidelines of a football field. He designed a system for how his football team was to work, including the offensive mechanics, that he believed needed to be followed at all times.
With two capable quarterbacks in Morton and Staubach, Coach Landry didn’t know what to do. He decided to start Morton in the first week, but then started Staubach, then he started Morton, what was going on?
Things reached a breaking point on Halloween in a loss against the Chicago Bears when Coach Landry literally swapped Morton and Staubach out every series. This had to stop. The team needed one quarterback. They needed one leader. The Dallas Cowboys needed Roger Staubach.
Craig Morton recounts Tom Landry calling him over following the loss in Chicago and telling him that he was going with Staubach. “He said he had a feeling,” Morton said.
What. A. Feeling.
On November 7th, 1971 Roger Staubach took the reins of the Dallas Cowboys. He was now the leader of America’s Team; Roger Staubach was Captain America.
He tore through the remainder of the 1971 season throwing for 1,249 yards, 10 touchdowns, and a lone interception in the regular season finale as the Cowboys made their way to the playoffs in hopes of avenging the previous year’s Super Bowl loss.
The Cowboys started their playoff run with a win on Christmas Day in Minnesota and punched their ticket to Super Bowl VI against the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship Game.
Roger Staubach put the exclamation point on a spectacular season (he was voted to the Pro Bowl and led the NFL in Passer Rating with 104.8) with a victory in the biggest game there is.
His 119 yards and 2 touchdowns (Staubach threw for 321 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions in the entire 1971 postseason) cemented him as the game’s Most Valuable Player… making Roger Staubach the first person ever to win both the Heisman Trophy and Super Bowl MVP Award.
Roger The Dodger
While he lost most of the 1972 season to a shoulder injury, Roger Staubach assumed his starting role for good in 1973. His play style became widely known throughout the NFL as defenders one and all were left wondering how to stop him.
Just when they thought they had him, he was gone. Right when they thought they’d trapped him, he danced his way out of trouble. When they collapsed the pocket and gave him no way out - Roger shook them all off.
Staubach electrified fans with his dazzling moves in the backfield. His uncanny ability to keep plays alive was his secret weapon, but it went against Tom Landry’s coveted system.
The Greatest 41 in Dallas Cowboys History, Charlie Waters, recalls that Coach Landry’s “No, Roger, no!” shouts would suddenly, after a trademark Staubach escape, turn into “Go, Roger, go!”.
Roger’s ability to evade would-be tacklers and make something happen out of what seemed like nothing made him and the Dallas Cowboys one of the more premiere offenses of the time. Opponents absolutely could not contain him. He had a will to win unlike anyone had ever seen.
Compete, Compete, Compete
It shouldn’t be surprising that NFL players are highly competitive, but there are none who have ever wanted to win more than Roger Staubach. Everything was about winning, every single thing.
Bob Lilly has told tales about practices where Roger would tell Bob Hayes (owner of an Olympic Gold Medal in sprinting, mind you) that he could beat him in a 20-yard dash.
“Roger told Bob Hayes one day, he said, ‘I’m gonna beat you in a 20-yard dash.’ They ran one and Bob beat him. And they ran two and Bob beat him. They ran five and Bob beat him. And they ran ten and Bob beat him! …And after about the thirtieth one - he beat Bob. And that was the end.”
Staubach’s competitiveness wasn’t just seen in races against Pro Football Hall of Famer Bob Hayes. He pushed his teammates to greater heights than even they thought possible. Roger was able to draw more out of a player than that player could have drawn out of himself - the mark of a true leader.
Roger’s teammates idolized him. He was bigger than life to them. They felt that with him, anything was possible. They gave him their absolute all because they knew that if they did he would deliver for them and the Dallas Cowboys.
The ability to deliver victory when all hope was lost had become the signature move of Roger Staubach in the mid-70s. He could be counted on in extremely clutch situations and exemplified a will win, regardless of the circumstances.
As a deep man of faith, Roger never hid his religious beliefs or conservative lifestyle. He was a married man who praised God and was one of the greatest quarterbacks in the world. His religious life and football life merged as one on December 28th, 1975.
Minnesota is a cold place in December. It’s even colder when you’re trailing 14-10 in the playoffs with very little time remaining. Toss in the Purple People Eaters chasing you on every play and it’s hard to imagine anything more frigid.
Captain Comeback to the rescue! With the season on the line Roger Staubach launched a 50-yard bomb in the direction of Drew Pearson. As fate, or divine intervention, would have it… the ball landed safely in the arms of Pearson as he ran in for the game-winning score. When asked by reporters what happened on the all-important play, Staubach gave birth to an iconic term that is, still to this day, used all across football.
“So we win 17-14. And after the game they just said to me, ‘Roger, what were you thinking about when you threw the ball?’ I just said, ‘Well I closed my eyes and said a Hail Mary. I’m a Catholic kid from Cincinnati.’”
Of all the comebacks that Roger Staubach engineered, this one stands out the most. The “Hail Mary” was born out of Staubach’s never-give-up mentality, and it is etched forever in NFL History.
The Legend Of Roger Staubach
The thrilling victory over the Vikings in 1975 was met with the disappointment of losing Super Bowl X to the Pittsburgh Steelers. No worries, Roger Staubach would rescue the Cowboys once again.
In 1976 the Dallas Cowboys drafted what seemed to be the heir apparent at quarterback in Danny White. He was good and Roger was, well, Roger Staubach. This left another backup quarterback by the name of Clint Longley feeling a little on edge.
One day Clint and Roger were arguing in the locker room. Before you know it a scuffle breaks out! Fists flying, legs up in the air, these were quarterbacks… brawling! The next day Longley, seeking revenge, cold-cocked Staubach when his guard was down and scampered away.
Gil Brandt wasn’t going to tolerate someone sucker punching his starting quarterback and leader of the team, so he traded Longley away to the San Diego Chargers for draft picks. This was the first domino that fell in a line that led to the Cowboys drafting Pro Football Hall of Famer Tony Dorsett with the second overall pick in 1977.
With another Heisman Trophy Winner to hand the ball off to, Roger had a myriad of weapons on the Dallas Cowboys offense. Staubach and the Cowboys stormed through the 1977 season, going 12-2, and found themselves in Super Bowl XII (the first Super Bowl in the Louisiana Superdome, fun fact). Their opponents? The Denver Broncos... quarterbacked by none other than Craig Morton.
The famed Doomsday Defense, knowing everything about him, took care of Morton while Staubach and the offense lit up the Superdome scoreboard. Roger threw one of the most beautiful touchdown passes in Super Bowl History to Butch Johnson as the Cowboys marched to a 27-10 victory, and America's Team was once again on top of the world.
End Of An Era
Even though two Super Bowl rings weighed down his hand at this point, Roger Staubach had his finest statistical seasons in 1978 and 1979.
He crossed 3,000 yards in both seasons, something that he had never done up until that point. He also threw for at least 25 touchdowns in both seasons, which was another new accomplishment - although he did lead the league with 23 touchdowns in 1973. Staubach also led the league in quarterback rating both years with 84.9 and 92.3, respectively.
The Cowboys reached the Super Bowl for the second straight season in 1978 and played in what I believe to be the greatest game ever played, Super Bowl XIII.
A combined 15 Pro Football Hall of Famers participated in the shootout. This was, at the time, the highest scoring Super Bowl in NFL History… and the Steelers unfortunately outlasted the Cowboys, 35-31.
Staubach would return for one more year in 1979, leading the Cowboys to an 11-5 record and yet another playoff appearance; however, the Cowboys were denied a third straight Super Bowl appearance by the Los Angeles Rams at Texas Stadium, and the end of an era was upon the Dallas Cowboys.
With concussion injuries a concern, and heeding some professional medical advice, Roger Staubach retired from football… after giving the game everything that he had, making it all the more greater while doing so.
Staubach gave one of the most memorable retirement speeches in Dallas Cowboys History. He cited the “system” that Coach Landry had instilled and, showing emotion, spoke of the influence of the iconic coach and his fedora.
“The system was successful before me, and it’ll be successful without me. Of course the nuts and bolts of the Dallas Cowboys is… a man who wears a funny hat on the sidelines.”
#12: Roger Staubach
It’s hard to comprehend just how much Roger Staubach accomplished during his time in the NFL. It’s especially hard to wrap your mind around it when you consider that he did it after four years being away from the game while in the Navy. His career resume includes:
- 1963 Heisman Trophy Winner
- 6-Time Pro Bowl Selection (1971, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979)
- Led NFL in Passer Rating 4 Times (1971, 1973, 1978, 1979)
- 85 Career Wins (2nd in Dallas Cowboys History)
- 153 Career Touchdown Passes (4th in Dallas Cowboys History)
- 22,700 Career Passing Yards (3rd in Dallas Cowboys History)
- 2-Time Super Bowl Champion (VI, XII)
- Super Bowl VI MVP
- Member of NFL’s 1970s All-Decade Team
- Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor, Class of 1983
- Pro Football Hall of Fame, Class of 1985
In 1977 Roger Staubach started a commercial real estate business called The Staubach Company. After his football career was over he ventured deeper into this new world.
He applied the same level of focus, intensity, and classic Staubach touch to his new playing field and experienced immense success. In 2007 he sold his company to Jones Lang LaSalle, where he currently serves as Executive Chairman.
As much as people believe in Roger Staubach, an amount that knows no end, he believes in people more. Throughout his entire life Roger Staubach has shown the same ferocity that he displayed on the football field through his unconditional love towards others.
The likes of Drew Pearson, Charlie Waters, Thomas “Hollywood” Henderson, and many others have all spoken of Staubach’s endless generosity. When someone is in need, anyone, Roger Staubach dials up one of his trademark plays and finds a way to help them cross the goal line for a touchdown.
So often in sports we idolize those who are capable of superhuman acts that seem impossible to us. The way football players dodge defenders, run through tackles, and leap through the air to catch touchdowns are all things that we just do not have the ability to do.
Throughout his entire life Roger Staubach has done the impossible. The greatest defenders in NFL History were all left empty-handed when they chased him down. There is no doubt that he is one of the most legendary figures to ever play the game of football.
What makes Roger Staubach truly admirable though, is he has always done the impossible and the possible. So many public figures, and especially athletes, lose sight of what's important in life... not Roger Staubach.
Everything about him is world class both in and out of the game of football. He is devout in his faith, a wonderful husband, a loving father and grandfather, and he gives his all in every facet of his life.
If you have ever experienced the joy of watching Roger Staubach play football then you know what I'm talking about.
Roger Staubach is so much more than the Greatest 12 in Dallas Cowboys History. He serves as an inspiration to us all that real-life heroes do exist. He is anything and everything that you would want him to be, both on and off the field. He is a man of faith, an American hero, an NFL legend, and a Star in everything that he's ever done...
Roger Staubach is, and will forever be, the Greatest Dallas Cowboy of All-Time.
Check back tomorrow to find out who the Greatest 11 in Dallas Cowboys History is!
Cowboys en Español: Evaluando la Administración
Entre los aficionados de los Dallas Cowboys, pocas cosas son criticadas tan frecuentemente como la administración de la franquicia que no ha ganado ningún Super Bowl en más de dos décadas. Se ha convertido en un equipo que, a pesar de ser el más valioso en el mundo deportivo, no ha sido nada relevante en el emparrillado. Lo que alguna vez fue una dinastía se ha convertido en una unidad que rompe frecuentemente los corazones de los fans.
Jerry Jones y Stephen Jones, siendo los operadores del ámbito deportivo del negocio familiar, son criticados semana tras semana y en gran parte por justa razón. Pero en gran parte, por cosas no muy válidas.
Cambios de Coach
A mi parecer, lo más criticable para la administración de este equipo viene cuando hablamos de los coaches. Muchos se burlan de los Cincinnati Bengals y de la manera en la que están atascados con el Head Coach Marvin Lewis. Con Jason Garrett al volante, la situación para los Cowboys no es nada diferente.
A mediados de la temporada 2018, no parece que esta narrativa vaya a cambiar. Una vez más, los Cowboys arrancaron de una manera muy inconsistente y ya no sabemos que esperar de ellos. Gran parte de las derrotas, la mayor parte, es el coacheo.
Sin duda el equipo no será exactamente el mismo en 2019, pero ¿serán suficientes los cambios como para decidir quedarse con el mismo capitán que no ha podido mantener el barco navegando por años?
A diferencia de como se manejan muchos equipos en la liga, los Jones fungen como general managers de su propio equipo. Con la ayuda de Will McClay han logrado superar varios de los fracasos de los Jones de antaño, pero actualmente, siendo sinceros no han hecho un mal trabajo.
A pesar de las critícas de Abril, Leighton Vander Esch está probando haber valido más que la pena. Siendo objetivos, aparte de Taco Charlton en el 2017, todas las selecciones de primera ronda de los Cowboys han sido valiosas. La línea ofensiva, el corredor, un cornerback que por fin se está perfilando como uno de los mejores en la liga.
En cuanto a la segunda ronda, ha habido varias críticas, muchas con razón. Pero el mejor caza cabezas del equipo, DeMarcus Lawrence, el linebacker Jaylon Smith, Randy Gregory y más están teniendo un impacto muy fuerte en el equipo.
La administración se ha visto en la necesidad de tomar decisiones bastante difíciles después de una temporada de nueve victorias en 2017. El LB Anthony Hitchens fue liberado, Dan Bailey se fue inesperadamente, se confió en Byron Jones para tomar su opción de quinto año.
Hasta ahora, pura decisión digna de aplaudirse. Pero ninguna como la más reciente de todas: Amari Cooper.
Por más caro que haya salido, los Cowboys merecen bastante crédito por haber mejorado muchísimo su posición de WR. Si el equipo llega a tener una oportunidad esta temporada, será en gran parte por él.
No cabe ninguna duda en mi cabeza de que los Jones han cometido errores a lo largo de los años, el más evidente siendo la resistencia de dejar ir a Jason Garrett. Pero a pesar de esto, la administración ha tomado excelentes decisiones y ha realizado el draft muy bien. En ese aspecto en específico, les aplaudo.
Sack Numbers Don’t Tell DeMarcus Lawrence’s 2018 Story
Coming off of a career year in 2017, many fans expected DeMarcus Lawrence to continue his ridiculous sack production this season. After all, he is once again in a "contract year" due to the franchise tag, and fans are hoping the Cowboys can secure him longterm this offseason.
Through the first four games of 2018, Lawrence looked as ridiculous and unstoppable as ever. He had 5.5 sacks, tied for the league lead, and was dictating the pass protection schemes of every offense the Cowboys were facing.
Since that hot start, though, DeMarcus Lawrence has recorded just 1 sack, falling behind some of the league leaders he was once ahead of. This has some people scratching their heads and wondering if Lawrence's career year in 2017 was just that, a career year. One which he will never replicate again, and one which the Cowboys should factor out when talking contract extensions.
Here's why those people are wrong.
Let's first talk about what makes DeMarcus Lawrence so good, and then we'll get into the full context of the Cowboys defense and how that explains some of the drop in sacks.
Lawrence, unlike some of the league's other top pass rushers, is a complete 4-3 defensive end. He is one of, if not the best run defending defensive ends in football, as shown by his 12 tackles for loss on the season (only Aaron Donald and Danielle Hunter have more).
Much of the year, the Cowboys run defense has boiled down to Lawrence making splash plays, as we saw against the Washington Redskins. Adrian Peterson was gashing the Cowboys during that game, and the only one who did anything to stop him was DeMarcus Lawrence, as indicated by his 3 tackles for loss that Sunday.
There's also the point that 6.5 sacks through half the season is, well, good. It's really good! And when you couple his sack numbers with his solid pressure and QB hit stats, you can see that Lawrence is having a very good season.
Then there is the context of this entire Cowboys defense, specifically their defensive line and pass rush. To put it bluntly, DeMarcus Lawrence has been their only consistent rusher this season. Though we came into the year with high hopes for Randy Gregory, and cautious optimism about first round pick Taco Charlton, neither have been all that impressive this season.
Somebody, anybody, has to step up and become a threat opposite of Lawrence. David Irving could help matters with his interior pass rush ability, but he has been unavailable for basically the entire season.
Without another pass rusher for offense's to even think twice about, Lawrence is getting double teamed and/or chipped by a tight end or running back on just about every rush. It's becoming rare that Lawrence is in a true one-on-one pass rush situation.
Of course, if you are elite, offenses are going to shift protections to you in this way and you still have to find ways to be productive.
And thus far in 2018, DeMarcus Lawrence is doing just that.
Can QB Dak Prescott Steal Back His Mojo From Atlanta?
When the Dallas Cowboys last traveled to Mercedes-Benz Stadium they were completely throttled by the Atlanta Falcons. It's a game a lot of Cowboys Nation would like to forget, but no one more so than Quarterback Dak Prescott. That game could very well be where his struggles really began.
It's almost exactly a year later and the Dallas Cowboys still find themselves haunted by that brutal beating the Atlanta Falcons handed them in Week 10 of the 2017 season. The Cowboys seemed to lose all confidence in themselves after that game, but it was almost as if it was the exact point in time where Dak Prescott lost all of his mojo as well.
Before that match up against the Falcons, Prescott was still playing at a pretty high level. But since then, he has been in a slump and there have been very few signs of recapturing any of that magic he once had. Heading back to Atlanta maybe the key for him finding and stealing back his mojo.
Things could definitely go a little differently this time around. The Cowboys will have Ezekiel Elliott and Tyron Smith in the lineup this week. Zeke missed the game last year due to the league mandated six-game suspension, and Tyron missed due to an injury. Having those two back in the lineup could pay huge dividends, especially for Prescott.
Without his starting left tackle and running back, Dak was pretty much beaten to a pulp by the Falcons defense a year ago. They applied relentless pressure, hitting and sacking him on a number of occasions. Unfortunately, I think that's where he started seeing ghost in the pocket and its haunted him ever since.
The beating he took at the hands of the Falcons has really thrown off his entire game. His mechanics, accuracy, and effectiveness as a scrambler can all be traced back to that one matchup. He just hasn't been the same QB he was prior to that game.
Prescott's stats prior to the Falcons game:
66.7 completion percentage
102.4 passer rating
Prescott's stats since the Falcons game:
63.3 completion percentage
83.1 passer rating
As you can see, that's a notable difference. His passer rating has shockingly dropped nearly 20 points since last playing the Falcons and it's really hurt the entire offensive production. It's time for that to change.
Prescott has no choice this week. He has to get back up on the horse that bucked him off and hopefully regain that mojo he left in Atlanta a year ago. Fortunately for him, his confidence might be is as high as it's been since that last meeting after pulling off the upset against the Philadelphia Eagles last week.
Now, he just has to go out and prove it!
Do you think Dak Prescott can regain his mojo against the Atlanta Falcons?
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