Dallas Cowboys: Roger Staubach

Cowboys' top play winner: The Hail Mary

July, 11, 2014
Jul 11
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Roger Staubach and Drew PearsonAP Photo/Bill Kostroum
Score: Cowboys 17, Vikings 14
Date: Dec. 28, 1975 Site: Metropolitan Stadium

With nearly 40,000 votes cast, Roger Staubach’s Hail Mary pass to Drew Pearson was voted as the most memorable play in Dallas Cowboys' history by the ESPN.com readers.

Troy Aikman’s fourth-quarter pass to Alvin Harper in the 1992 NFC Championship Game against the San Francisco 49ers that set in motion the 1990s dynasty finished second. Bob Lilly's sack of Bob Griese in Super Bowl VI was a distant third even if it propelled the Cowboys to their first championship.

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Which is the most memorable play in Cowboys' history?

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The voters got this one right. Staubach is the most iconic player in franchise history, and that play is frozen in time. It was one of the most iconic plays in NFL history and introduced “Hail Mary,” into the league’s lexicon. You cannot write the history of the NFL without that play.

To recap the play: With time running out in a 1975 divisional playoff game against the Minnesota Vikings, the Cowboys had the ball at midfield and needed a miracle. They had dominated statistically, but the Vikings had a 14-10 lead.

Staubach pumped to his left after taking the shotgun snap, in hopes of moving safety Paul Krause away from the sideline. As he pumped, Staubach said he nearly lost the ball and as a result the pass was underthrown.

Subsequently, Pearson had to pull up and either knocked Nate Wright down (Minnesota's version) or made an excellent adjustment to the ball (Dallas' version) to score the winning touchdown, pinning the ball against his right hip.

Some of you wondered why Tony Dorsett's 99-yard run, Emmitt Smith's carry in which he broke Walter Payton’s rushing record or his stiff-arm of Lawrence Taylor playing with a separated shoulder, Clint Longley's Thanksgiving Day heave against the Redskins or even Leon Lett's miscue in Super Bowl XXVII didn’t make the list.

Two of my personal favorites: Marion Barber’s run out of the end zone against the New England Patriots breaking seven tackles and Tony Romo's first-down scramble vs. the St. Louis Rams after a shotgun snap sailed over his head didn’t make the list either.

There needed to be some historic value to the play. The Hail Mary had that, so did Aikman-to-Harper and Lilly’s sack.

But there’s no question which play had the most value.

Cowboys' top plays: Bob Lilly's sack

July, 9, 2014
Jul 9
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Bob Lilly and Bob GrieseAP Photo
» VOTE HERE » NFC Plays: East | West | North | South » AFC: East | West | North | South

This is one of three finalists for the most memorable plays in Cowboys history. We already discussed the Troy Aikman-to-Alvin Harper pass in the 1992 NFC Championship Game and the Hail Mary from Roger Staubach to Drew Pearson.

Please vote for your choice as the Cowboys’ most memorable play.

Score: Cowboys 24, Dolphins 3
Date: Jan. 16, 1972 Site: Tulane Stadium

The Cowboys were known as "Next Year's Champions" after losing the 1966 NFL championship to the Green Bay Packers, the ’67 title game (better known as the Ice Bowl) to the Packers and Super Bowl V to the Baltimore Colts.

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Which is the most memorable play in Cowboys' history?

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But the Cowboys quickly put to rest any doubt that they would win Super Bowl VI against the Miami Dolphins.

After taking a 3-0 lead, the Cowboys forced Dolphins quarterback Bob Griese into retreat mode. Larry Cole had the first chance at Griese but jumped in the air, allowing the quarterback to escape. Briefly. And in reverse. Eventually, Bob Lilly, Mr. Cowboy, was able to bring Griese down for a 29-yard loss.

Doomsday had dominated, and with their 24-3 victory, the Cowboys were “This Year’s Champions,” becoming the first team to win a Super Bowl the year after losing one.

The Cowboys lost Super Bowl V to the Colts on a Jim O’Brien field goal that led Lilly to flinging his helmet in disgust. A year later, Lilly had his championship moment.

The sack remains the largest negative play in Super Bowl history. The Cowboys are the only team not to allow a touchdown in a Super Bowl. A Miami offense built around Larry Csonka, Paul Warfield and Jim Kiick was shut down. Csonka and Kiick had 40 yards rushing each. Warfield had 39 receiving yards, with 23 coming on one play.

Roger Staubach was named the Most Valuable Player of Super Bowl VI with two touchdown passes, completing 12 of 19 passes for 119 yards. But it was the defensive dominance, highlighted by Lilly’s sack, that brought Tom Landry and the Cowboys their first championship.

Cowboys' top plays: The Hail Mary

July, 8, 2014
Jul 8
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Roger Staubach and Drew PearsonAP Photo/Bill Kostroum
» VOTE HERE » NFC Plays: East | West | North | South » AFC: East | West | North | South

This is one of three finalists for the most memorable plays in Dallas Cowboys history. We already discussed the Troy Aikman-to-Alvin Harper pass in the 1992 NFC Championship Game. On Wednesday, we will include Bob Lilly's sack of Bob Griese in Super Bowl VI.

Please vote for your choice as the Cowboys' most memorable play.

Score: Cowboys 17, Vikings 14
Date: Dec. 28, 1975 Site: Metropolitan Stadium

What if Roger Staubach didn't grow up Catholic? Would "Hail Mary" be part of today's lexicon?

With 24 seconds left in a 1975 divisional playoff game against the Minnesota Vikings, the Cowboys had the ball at midfield and needed a miracle. They had dominated statistically, but the Vikings had a 14-10 lead.

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Which is the most memorable play in Cowboys' history?

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As happens many times before iconic plays, smaller plays get overlooked, but to just get the ball to midfield for the Hail Mary, Staubach and Drew Pearson connected on a fourth-and-16 pass at the sideline that by today's rules would have likely been ruled incomplete or overturned on replay. On first down, a Staubach check-down to Preston Pearson was off. Had the pass been complete, the Cowboys might not have gotten off another play because they didn't have a timeout.

With 32 seconds left, Staubach mentioned in the huddle a double-move route Drew Pearson used against the Washington Redskins earlier and to do it again on this play. Pearson took a couple of steps to his left, then sprinted down the right sideline to create separation.

Staubach pumped to his left after taking the shotgun snap in hopes of moving safety Paul Krause away from the sideline. As he pumped, Staubach said he nearly lost the ball, causing the pass to be underthrown.

And here's where allegiances matter. Vikings players, coaches and fans will forever believe Pearson pushed cornerback Nate Wright. Cowboys players, coaches and fans will forever believe Wright slipped.

Wright went down. Pearson pinned the ball against his right hip and backed into the end zone. Replays show Krause pointing at Pearson, expecting a pass interference penalty. An orange flew past Pearson in the end zone, and soon he was surrounded by celebrating teammates after heaving the ball over the scoreboard.

"It was just a Hail Mary pass; a very, very lucky play," Staubach said after the game.

Staubach's Hail Mary was answered ... and born.

Concussion case good for ex-Cowboys

June, 25, 2014
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The NFL agreed to remove a $675 million cap on damages from thousands of concussion-related claims on Wednesday. A federal judge didn't believe there would be enough money to cover more than 20,000 retired players who are expected to bring in a claim.

Among those 20,000 players is former Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Dorsett.

In a "D Magazine" article last year, Dorsett said he suffers memory loss among other mental health problems related to playing football.

"When I'm out there, I'm on a cloud. It's like a fog, man," Dorsett said in the story, published last year. "It's like a fog. That's the only way I can explain it. I can't get out of it, and I know -- it's just a weird feeling, dude. I hate it, and I get really, really -- and that can make me get real frustrated, if I'm not careful. I get mad at myself for certain things. Not knowing how to get certain places, forgetting where I'm going, driving somewhere then forgetting where I'm going. That kind of craziness, man. So I've learned to write notes. Or speak into my phone, write notes on it. Write it down."

The Carrick Brain Centers in Irving, Texas is designed to treat diseases and disorders of the brain and central nervous system for its patients. One visit inside the facility will show you all sorts of machines where patients can work on their motor functions after getting diagnosed with a concussion. Several former pro athletes have used places such as the Carrick Brain Center to work through their health issues.

"We focus on the principles of Neuroplasticity, in essence the brain has the ability to heal itself through stimulation of new neurons and the strengthening of compromised neural pathways," said Dr. Andre Fredieu, Chief of Neurology at Carrick Brain Centers. "Our evidence-based diagnostic tools and protocols utilize multiple theraputic modalaties to enable us to achieve measureable results in the quickest possible time, relieving debilitating symptoms and returning the patient to a measureably better quality of life."

The NFL is a vicious game and there's almost no way to prevent concussions in the sport outside of avoiding helmet-to-helmet contact -- which the league has outlawed -- because a player's head can hit the ground or another body part where a concussion can occur.

According to the Associated Press, U.S. District Judge Anita Brody denied preliminary approval of the NFL concussion lawsuit deal in January because she worried money could run out sooner than expected. The settlement, negotiated over several months, will help last at least 65 years and cover retired players who develop Lou Gehrig's disease, dementia or other neurological problems believed to be caused by concussions suffered during their pro careers.

More than 4,500 former players filed suit.

There are numerous players who haven't filed suit, such as Hall of Fame QB Roger Staubach, who suffered multiple concussions in his career. Staubach has said he's suffering no health problems as it relates to concussions. Troy Aikman, another Hall of Fame quarterback, retired due to back issues. But Aikman also suffered numerous concussions.

Aikman, like Staubach, has reported no health problems regarding concussions.

But we have Dorsett, the legendary Hall of Fame running back, who was diagnosed with having CTE, a form of encephalopathy that is a progressive degenerative disease related to people who have a history of concussions and other head injuries.

There is no cure.

"I'm a Hall of Famer," Dorsett said in the magazine story. "I'm one of the most visible guys during my era. And nobody's reached out to me. Nobody from the NFL has even checked, even asked a question to me. 'Hey, man, I'm sorry' or 'Hey, man, I wish you well' -- whatever. 'Man, is there anything we can do to help you?' You know, because sometimes -- I go to doctors and I can't remember the doctors' names."

Wednesday's ruling won't change Dorsett's condition, but along with the Carrick Brain Centers and other facilities, rehab might just help a little bit.

Where does Tony Romo rank all time?

June, 11, 2014
Jun 11
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IRVING, Texas -- The NFL offseasons are built for rankings, top-10 lists, five-best signings, five-worst signings.

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Which quarterback would you rather have?

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Discuss (Total votes: 13,140)

Chase Stuart at footballperspective.com has ranked NFL quarterbacks in history a few times and his recent ranking has Tony Romo ranked fairly high all time and among current quarterbacks.

You can read about the methodology used in the rankings here and see the entire list here.

Romo is ranked No. 23 all time. Roger Staubach checked in at No. 14. Where is Troy Aikman? He came in at No. 38. The last time these rankings were put together Staubach was No. 15, Romo No. 30 and Aikman No. 42.

Among the active quarterbacks, Romo is behind Peyton Manning (No. 1), Tom Brady (No. 2), Drew Brees (No. 7), Aaron Rodgers (No. 16) and Philip Rivers (No. 21). The next active quarterback after Romo is Ben Roethlisberger (No. 32), and he’s won two Super Bowls.

It’s an interesting look and offers up debates that make the “greatest quarterback of all time” debate so lively.
Johnny ManzielRonald Martinez/Getty ImagesIs Tony Romo's back enough of a concern for the Dallas Cowboys that they'd take a flier on the media circus that would come with drafting quarterback Johnny Manziel?

IRVING, Texas -- Johnny Manziel is the most polarizing player in this draft, so naturally people believe he will end up with the Dallas Cowboys, the most polarizing team in the NFL.

With the first round coming fast, ESPNDallas writers take a roundtable look at what a union of the Cowboys and Manziel would mean.

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Should the Cowboys take Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel with the 16th pick if he falls to them?

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Todd Archer: Let's make an huge assumption here that Manziel will be available at No. 16 when the Cowboys pick in the first round. I ask this question first: Should the Cowboys pick the Texas A&M quarterback? We'll get to "Would the Cowboys pick him?" in a second.

My take is, yes, the Cowboys should take him, and I'm not even thinking about the marketing opportunities and off-field stuff that Jerry Jones thinks about. From a football standpoint, I'd argue it would be a great value pick. There is no way the Green Bay Packers thought they would get Aaron Rodgers in 2005 late in the first round, but they took him even when Brett Favre was playing well. Tony Romo is 34 and coming off two back surgeries. I think he'll be fine and return to form, but what happens if he doesn't or he takes a big hit in Week 8 and is down for the year?

Jerry always tried to find a quarterback on the cheap after Troy Aikman retired and he never found a guy until Romo. And that was lucky. I think he'd be lucky again if Manziel were there at No. 16.

Calvin Watkins: I don't believe the Cowboys should take him. No. 1, I don't believe he'll fall to No. 16 or even out of the top 10. If he does fall to No. 16, the Cowboys should either bypass him or trade down. This team has bigger holes to address such as secondary and defensive line before quarterback. There are quarterbacks later, such as Aaron Murray from Georgia, who can be taken in the second or third round. Yeah, I know Romo is coming off back surgery and he's 34 and all of that. It's a back injury and you never know about backs. However, getting Manziel at No. 16 isn't worth it to me. You can find a good quarterback to groom in the later rounds.

Tim MacMahon: Heck, yes. If you can get a guy you feel is a franchise quarterback in the middle of the first round, you do it, especially when the fate of your franchise rests on a 34-year-old back that has been operated on twice in the past year. This isn't about trying to run Romo out of town. It would be a chance to extend the window of having a Pro Bowl-caliber quarterback another decade or so, an opportunity the Cowboys shouldn't pass up after navigating that rickety bridge from Aikman to Romo. It would be complicated for a couple of years because of Romo's massive contract and the potential chemistry issues that Roger Staubach mentioned, but it would be well worth it if Manziel can make plays in the NFL like he did in the SEC.

Jean-Jacques Taylor: No. No. No. A thousand times no. This team has way too many holes to draft a quarterback in the first round to sit behind Romo for at least three years. That makes absolutely no sense. When Green Bay drafted Aaron Rodgers and let him sit, they were a contender. They could afford to do it. There's a good chance Jason Garrett gets fired at the end of next season if he's not in the playoffs. Do you think he wants to take a first-round pick and stash him for the next coach? Heck, no. This was the worst defense in the universe last year. Are they really going to miss out on a chance to help it to draft a quarterback who may or may not be a star?

Archer: OK, let’s move on to the second part of the question: Would the Cowboys take Manziel if he is there at No. 16?

I believe they would. We always talk about how the Cowboys should draft a quarterback every year, so now when they could do it, we’re going to say, "No, not that guy?" I don’t think the next Cowboys quarterback will be developed by this team. In other words, a middle-round pick who sits for a few years and takes over. Almost all of the top quarterbacks come from the first or second round. The Cowboys would have Manziel ready to go without the burden of having to carry the franchise early on. He is skilled. He has ability. And he is a draw. I do think it would be incumbent on the coaches to manage this thing the right way because the second Romo throws a poor pass, fans will be calling for Manziel. You can't operate that way.

Watkins: Say the Cowboys do take him, which I doubt, can you imagine if Romo has a bad game? He has been known to have them from time to time. Garrett would be under pressure to send Manziel into the game when he's not ready. Then if he does use Manziel, you've got a media and fan circus. The Cowboys have endured their own type of drama from Terrell Owens, Pacman Jones, Romo's own issues, Jerry Jones and how he runs the franchise among other things, but a quarterback drama isn't fun for anybody. Having Manziel around isn't fun. But if Jerry drafted him he wouldn't care, it would be about the business of marketing and not the business of football.

MacMahon: Well, that might depend on who gets the last word in with GM Jerry. I can’t imagine Garrett, a head coach fighting to keep his job as he enters the last season of his contract, would be thrilled with the idea of using a first-round pick on a guy who might be holding a clipboard and still drawing a media horde as a rookie. But Stephen Jones seems just as enamored with Johnny Football as his father is. I don't think Jerry could help himself if Manziel were available when the Cowboys are on the clock. A strong football argument can be made for Manziel as a fit, and it’d be a home run for the marketing department. And we all know the Cowboys' GM cares about marketing almost as much as he does about football.

Taylor: Jerry loves collecting baubles. We know this. Dez Bryant was a bauble. So was Terrell Owens. And Rocket Ismail. He loves any marketing aspect that added more cash to the family treasure trove. I can absolutely see Jerry using the force of his personality to persuade Garrett and vice president Stephen Jones the right move to make is adding Johnny Football to the roster, even though he's going to sit for multiple seasons and wouldn't make an impact on the team unless Romo was hurt. Hey, at least the preseason games would be sold out.

Archer: Let's be honest, he won't be there at No. 16 and I think we all believe it would cost too much to trade up to get him, so who takes Manziel and why is he a better fit there than with the Cowboys?

I’m going with Jacksonville. They need a quarterback and they need a draw. It’s probably not the most sound football decision to think of it like that, but the Jaguars have no juice. Manziel would give them some juice. And the Cowboys will see him at Wembley in November. Perfect.

Watkins: It's interesting, but when I read Ourlads' mock draft, it didn't have Manziel going until No. 26 to Cleveland. But when I look at the top 10, I can see six teams taking him. I think Cleveland takes him at No. 4, but you have to wonder about the weather in the AFC North. Manziel hasn't played in that on a regular basis in college. Can he produce in cold weather in Pittsburgh and Baltimore in November and December? Oakland seems logical as well at No. 5. Matt Schaub should start in 2014 and Manziel would get his chance the following year. It's just no easy place for him to go. Houston, I don't believe, thinks Manziel is better than the two defensive players. So, I guess to answer this question, I think Cleveland takes him at No. 4.

MacMahon: I think the Browns take him at No. 4. The Browns have been searching for a franchise quarterback since cutting Bernie Kosar, and drafting Manziel would fire up a rabid fan base desperately searching for a reason to be optimistic. Strange as it sounds, I also see Cleveland as a team that would give Manziel a chance to succeed early in his NFL career. Josh Gordon just led the NFL in receiving yards as a 22-year-old despite dealing with a QB rotation. Tight end Jordan Cameron is coming off a Pro Bowl season as a 25-year-old. The Browns have two Pro Bowl offensive linemen -- left tackle Joe Thomas and center Alex Mack -- who are in their prime. And Cleveland addressed its need for a running back by signing Ben Tate. Add an electrifying quarterback, and the Browns might actually have one of the NFL’s most explosive offenses.

Taylor: On the surface, Jacksonville should be really intrigued by Johnny Football because they need a quarterback and they need someone to put butts in seats. They're going to be bad again, so they need a playmaker on offense. That said, coach Gus Bradley is a defense-minded dude, so he'll probably go defense and take Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack. That leaves Johnny Football to Cleveland. The Browns have a really good, young defense. They have a young star in receiver Josh Gordon. What they need is a triggerman. Since 2002, the Browns have had 10 different players lead them in passing, which is not a positive. If he's the star some project, Johnny Football will turn that franchise around and he'll own the city.

For Cowboys, 1964 draft tough to top

May, 1, 2014
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IRVING, Texas -- Roger Staubach found out he was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the 10th round of the 1964 NFL draft by reading the Washington Post.

“I was in my room at the Naval Academy,” Staubach said. “No one called me. They had this little story, ‘Staubach drafted in Round 10.’ … To me, it wasn’t a big deal. I had five years to go before I could go play.”

Staubach is the greatest 10th-round pick in NFL history. He surely is part of one of the best draft classes ever. The 1964 NFL draft produced a record 11 Hall of Famers, and three were drafted by the Cowboys: Mel Renfro (second round), Bob Hayes (seventh round) and Staubach.

“You know why it was special?” said Gil Brandt, the Cowboys' vice president of player personnel at the time. “Because basically Tex [Schramm] and I did it by ourselves. We didn’t have nine scouts and all that stuff.”

The only team to produce more Hall of Famers from the same draft class in NFL history is the Pittsburgh Steelers, who drafted Lynn Swann, Jack Lambert, John Stallworth and Mike Webster in 1974.

The Cowboys had 19 picks in 1964, and Brandt can recite scouting reports on all of them to this day. Only seven played for the club, but the Hall of Fame trio makes it Brandt’s favorite draft.

[+] EnlargeRoger Staubach
AP Photo/Tony DejakRoger Staubach led the Dallas Cowboys to five Super Bowl appearances in his Hall of Fame career.
The Cowboys’ 1975 draft became known as the "Dirty Dozen" with 12 picks making the team, led by Hall of Famer Randy White. From 1988 to 1990, the Cowboys' first-round picks were Michael Irvin, Troy Aikman and Emmitt Smith. All three call the Pro Football Hall of Fame home.

Drafting Renfro, Hayes and Staubach spoke to the Cowboys’ advantages over other teams in that day -- and a little bit of good fortune.

Had they not held training camp in Forest Grove, Ore., it is doubtful Brandt ever meets Renfro as a high school senior. Air Force assistant coach Pepper Rodgers was recruiting Renfro and brought him to Cowboys camp, where he met Brandt.

Brandt remained in contact through Renfro’s time at Oregon. When it came time to pick in the second round in 1964, the Cowboys held up the draft for six hours so a doctor could examine Renfro’s injured wrist. After getting the news they wanted, they picked Renfro, and Brandt was on a flight from Chicago to Portland the next day.

“I called Mel. ‘Mel, I’m coming in on United flight so and so, and I get in at 1,’ or whatever time it was, and he said, ‘OK, I’ll meet you at the airport,’” Brandt said. “I get off the plane, go down three or four steps and there’s Mel. We signed right there in the airport.

“Now the coup de grace is you had to get the contract witnessed at the time because this was during the war between the two leagues. So we’re in Portland and we’ve got to get down to Eugene, but we’ve got to get this contract witnessed, so we stop at Oregon State to get a contract for an Oregon kid witnessed.”

Renfro made the Pro Bowl in each of his first 10 seasons, six at safety and the final four at cornerback. His 52 career interceptions remain a team record, and he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1996.

Like Staubach, Hayes was a future pick, but not many teams knew he was eligible. Brandt went to Florida A&M to visit with the coaches.

“I saw him in person, but he was like a third-team running back,” Brandt said. “He wasn’t a typical sprinter. He was well-defined. I mean he was a strong guy.”

He also visited Hayes’ mother in Jacksonville, Fla., at the restaurant where she worked.

“The big thing then was Pepsi Cola, 12 full ounces for a nickel too,” Brandt said, recalling the soda’s jingle at the time. “When you ate those chitlins, you drank one of those big 12-ounce Pepsis.”

With Hayes’ speed, Brandt saw a game-changing wide receiver. Hayes went on to win two gold medals in the Tokyo Summer Olympics, earning the “fastest man in the world” title, and joined the Cowboys in 1965.

[+] EnlargeHayes/Renfro
AP Photo/NFL PhotosThe Cowboys selected three future Hall of Famers in the 1964 draft, including Bob Hayes (20) and Mel Renfro.
The Cowboys took Hayes with the 88th pick in the draft, one spot before the Detroit Lions took a future Cowboys head coach in Bill Parcells. Hayes caught 46 passes for 1,003 yards and 12 touchdowns in 1965 and was named to the Pro Bowl three times in his career. Because of his speed, Hayes changed the game, forcing defenses to use zone coverages.

In 2009, Hayes was inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Staubach wasn’t even sure he was eligible for the draft. Because he spent a year at the New Mexico Military Institute in 1960 before going to Annapolis, the Cowboys were able to use a future pick on Staubach.

“It was about 2 o’clock in the morning when we drafted Roger,” Brandt said. “At that part of the draft, it’s all about taking risks.”

The summer before Staubach’s Heisman Trophy season, Brandt visited the quarterback’s parents in Cincinnati. Brandt wanted to see if Staubach could get out of his five-year commitment to the Navy after graduation.

“Gil likes to tell the story about talking to my mother and she threw him out of the house. ‘Roger has an obligation to the Naval Academy,’” Staubach said. “And that was that.”

The AFL’s Kansas City Chiefs also drafted Staubach, but he chose the Cowboys because he was an NFL guy, growing up as a Cleveland Browns fan. It also helped that they agreed to pay him $500 a month and a $10,000 signing bonus in his years with the Navy.

After returning from Vietnam, Staubach was stationed in Pensacola, Fla., and took two weeks leave to go to Cowboys training camp in Thousand Oaks, Calif., in 1967.

“That’s what made the difference, changed my life, really,” Staubach said. “I had a really good camp, and I think Coach [Tom] Landry thought I was mature enough so they possibly wouldn’t have to get a veteran quarterback.”

In 1969, Don Meredith retired unexpectedly. Craig Morton, the Cowboys’ first-round pick in 1965, would take over. Jerry Rhome, who was picked in the 13th round in 1964, was traded to Cleveland.

“We’re getting ready to leave Pensacola and then go to Thousand Oaks, and I told [his wife], ‘I’m second team and I haven’t done anything. Don’t worry,’” Staubach joked. “But if not for that year before, I think Coach Landry would’ve traded for a veteran quarterback behind Craig.”

By 1971, Staubach delivered the Cowboys their first title, winning Super Bowl VI and earning Most Valuable Player honors. The Cowboys won Super Bowl XII and appeared in five Super Bowls with Staubach, who earned the Captain Comeback nickname for his 23 late-game wins.

He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1985.

Like fishing stories, scouts have famous stories about the ones that got away. As good as the ’64 draft was, Brandt knows it would have been better if they were able to get Paul Warfield and Dave Wilcox, who went on to Hall of Fame careers.

The Cowboys would have drafted Warfield in the first round but made a wink-wink trade with the Steelers for wide receiver Buddy Dial. The Steelers received the Cowboys’ pick in return, Scott Appleton, who signed with the Houston Oilers instead of the Steelers.

Dallas did not have a third-round pick in 1964 but were so confident they would land Wilcox that Brandt had scout Red Hickey with the defensive end. Instead, the San Francisco 49ers took Wilcox with the first pick of the third round.

“We could’ve had five [Hall of Famers] if it would’ve gone right for us,” Brandt said. “We could’ve had four, but we had three. And I thought that was pretty good.”

More than pretty good.

Staubach: Manziel not a fit for Cowboys

April, 28, 2014
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IRVING, Texas -- Roger Staubach has been a fan of Tony Romo since the beginning. He also believes Johnny Manziel will have a long career in the NFL.

But the Dallas Cowboys Hall of Fame quarterback does not want to see Romo and Manziel on the same team.

Manziel
Recent talk has the Cowboys interested in picking up Manziel in the first round of next week's draft, ranging from doing anything they can to get him to hoping that he would fall close to the 16th pick. On 105.3 The Fan in Dallas on Monday, executive vice president Stephen Jones said any interest in Manziel is "purely speculation,” and that the team has yet to rate the quarterback position as a group.

Romo, who turned 34 last week, is coming off his second back surgery in less than a year, but he has been involved in the offseason conditioning program in the last two weeks and is expected to be ready for on-field work when Phase 2 of the offseason begins.

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Which quarterback would you rather have for the next five years?

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Discuss (Total votes: 10,683)

"I try to make people understand that if you brought Tom Brady here last year or Peyton Manning or Andrew Luck, it's a team effort and you need a solid defense or you're going to be 8-8,” Staubach said. "If we had a really good defense we would've been 11-5 easily, I think. I hope (Romo) has three, four more years left in him. The people that really understand football understand how good he is but those with second opinions would be screaming for Manziel all the time.

"I think Manziel has got great instincts. I think he'll be a fine player, but I don't think you want a Manziel when you have a franchise quarterback. Jerry has paid (Romo) as a franchise. I think Tony is that. He's not the reason we're 8-8.That's my feeling.”

To Staubach, a quarterback controversy is the quickest way to hurt a team.

In 1971, coach Tom Landry had Staubach and Craig Morton alternating series before settling on Staubach, and the Cowboys went on to win their first Super Bowl.

"We probably had half of the people want Craig on the field and half of them wanted me, and even teammates might've felt the same if you polled the team early in the year when Craig and I were going back and forth,” Staubach said. "Whoever's going to be the quarterback, you need a quarterback that's the leader and the person in place. Coach, God love him, but that kind of divided the team. You don't want to divide the team on your quarterback. That would be wherever Manziel goes. He's going to get a chance to be a starter. That's what he wants. I think he deserves that. I think he's got that starting quarterback talent.”

Where do Staubach, Aikman rank on QB list?

February, 5, 2014
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IRVING, Texas – Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel is one of the finest football writers around, and before Super Bowl XLVIII he ranked the top 25 quarterbacks he has seen play.

Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman made the list. So did one-time Cowboy Randall Cunningham.

Joe Montana was at the top of McGinn’s list and it’s hard to argue that spot. The rest of the top five was Johnny Unitas, Tom Brady, Dan Marino and Peyton Manning.

McGinn did not have any set criteria. He called some of it just a “gut feeling.” He is not afraid to make some decisions others might think are off, like having Ken Anderson check in at No. 14 and Donovan McNabb come in at No. 21.

Brady and Manning were two of the four active quarterbacks on his list. Aaron Rodgers was not on his list, but Ben Roethlisberger (No. 18) and Drew Brees (No. 25) were.

As for Staubach and Aikman, they were ranked Nos. 10 and 19. Staubach was one spot behind Dan Fouts. Aikman not only checked in after Roethlisberger, but also Kurt Warner. He ranked one spot ahead of Steve McNair.

Thoughts?

Before Brady-Manning, Cowboys QBs had rivals

January, 13, 2014
Jan 13
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IRVING, Texas -- Tom Brady and Peyton Manning will meet for the 15th time in their careers on Sunday when the New England Patriots play the Denver Broncos in the AFC Championship Game.

It will be their fourth playoff, which are the most postseason matchups between quarterbacks since 1950, according to Elias.

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Maybe there will be some Brady-Manning (or Manning-Brady) fatigue this week, but the matchup got me thinking about the Dallas Cowboys.

Roger Staubach had Terry Bradshaw. Troy Aikman had Steve Young and Brett Favre.

In the early 1970s, the Cowboys knocked out John Brodie’s San Francisco 49ers three straight years, but Staubach (1971) started just one game and Craig Morton started two (1970, ’72). Staubach eliminated the Los Angeles Rams in 1973, ’75 and 76 but he faced three different quarterbacks in John Hadl, Ron Jaworski and Pat Haden.

That’s why Bradshaw is the pick.

Was there a better rivalry in the NFL than the Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers? They were the magical teams of the 1970s and the Steelers can lay claim to the team of the decade because of their wins in Super Bowl X and Super Bowl XIII. That last loss still stings members of the 1978 Cowboys.

Staubach and Bradshaw met only twice in the regular season with the Steelers winning those matchups, too.

Aikman had a 4-3 record against Young in the 1990s. The Cowboys went through the Niners in back to back NFC Championship Games in 1992 and ’93 on their way to Super Bowl wins against the Buffalo Bills.

Young broke through in 1994 by beating the Cowboys in the NFC title game to win his only Super Bowl as a starter.

They played in four regular-season games against each other with the quarterbacks splitting the meetings.

In order to get to the 1993 and ’94 NFC Championship Games, the Cowboys had to go through the Green Bay Packers, beating Favre twice in the divisional round. Aikman beat Favre in the NFC title game in 1995.

Aikman had a 6-1 record against Favre in head-to-head meetings. The only loss in the series came in the only meeting at Lambeau Field on Nov. 23, 1997, a 45-17 decision.

Staubach sad for Romo; believes in Orton

December, 27, 2013
12/27/13
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FORT WORTH, Texas -- Hall of Fame quarterback Roger Staubach was "disappointed" for quarterback Tony Romo and the Cowboys that Romo was injured but expressed confidence that backup Kyle Orton can be effective in Romo's absence.

Orton
Romo
"He is the strength of Dallas. He gives us hope. Losing him is definitely a shame," Staubach said about Romo, who had back surgery on Friday morning. Staubach was in Fort Worth to speak at the Armed Forces Bowl kickoff luncheon. Staubach's alma mater, Navy, faces Middle Tennessee State on Monday.

Staubach went on to praise Orton, saying the backup "has a great arm" and "gets things done."

Orton will get his first start since 2011 with Romo out for the rest of the year.

"He can play football," Staubach said. "He's had some good days and bad days, but a lot of good days. I'm hoping that this Sunday night is one of his good days. He's extremely capable, especially with our offense with Dez Bryant and [Jason] Witten and DeMarco [Murray]. He's got some ammunition around him.

"I think our offensive line will be critical. They've done a good job this year. They need to do an outstanding job with Kyle in the pocket. He will be extremely effective if he has the time."

Staubach joked that he called Cowboys coach Jason Garrett and told him he wanted to back up Orton on Sunday.

"It was between me and [Jon] Kitna," Staubach said, chuckling. "I lost to Kitna. It was close, though."

Staubach has kept in communication with Romo throughout the years and admits he has plenty of admiration for him.

"I'm a big Romo fan, so I feel bad for Tony," said Staubach, who 50 seasons ago won the Heisman Trophy while leading Navy to the Cotton Bowl. "He's a tough son-of-a-gun, though. He was hurt in that game against the Redskins. That back had to be a real problem for him, yet he gutted it out and we at least have a shot at winning the East. I wish he was at quarterback, but I really feel with our offense that if Kyle gets time in the pocket, he'll be effective."

Romo was injured during last week's game and continued to play, eventually leading the Cowboys on a game-winning drive despite pain in his right leg.

The injury means Romo won't get a chance to improve upon his 0-3 mark in regular-season finales with the NFC East at stake. Dallas and Philadelphia will play for the division title Sunday night at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.

Staubach hopes Romo recovers quickly and has many productive years left as the Cowboys' quarterback.

"I really see the things he can do out on the field and the plays he makes," Staubach said. "He isn't as lucky as I was to have the full complement of players around. It's different. It's free agency. It's a different league."

Storied pasts loom over Cowboys, Packers

December, 13, 2013
12/13/13
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IRVING, Texas -- As the Cowboys walk to the team meeting room every day, they are met with pictures of Dallas' five Super Bowl winners. Each collage has a team photo and pictures of smiling players, coaches and executives from winning NFL championships.

At Lambeau Field, the photos from the great moments in Packers history line the wall from the tunnel to the locker room. When the stadium was renovated years ago, they took a row of old bricks and moved it to the new tunnel so players can say they walk over the same ground as the greats who played at Lambeau Field.

With a loss Sunday, though, either team will need even more help to just make the postseason.

[+] EnlargeTony Romo and Aaron Rodgers
AP Photo/David StlukaCowboys QB Tony Romo, right, and Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers know the burden that comes with playing for franchises trying to recapture past glory.
Like the Pittsburgh Steelers and San Francisco 49ers, the Cowboys are constantly chasing ghosts from past teams.

The Packers and Cowboys have combined for 18 NFL championships (Green Bay 13, Dallas five) and nine Super Bowls (Green Bay four, Dallas five). They produced one of the NFL’s iconic games -- the Ice Bowl -- in the 1967 NFC Championship. They were coached by legends in Tom Landry and Vince Lombardi. They rekindled the rivalry in the 1990s, meeting in the playoffs from 1993 to 1995.

The current teams carry something of a burden with them because of the successful pasts.

“We always look at it as a sense of pride and energy to tap into,” Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy said. “We think it’s very important to have that and recognize it and honor it, so I always refer to it as there’s pride in the bricks of Lambeau Field and it’s something we need to tap into. We talk to our current team about it and how important it is to win and represent the Green Bay Packers the right way.”

Jason Garrett does not talk about the expectations laid out from the likes of Roger Staubach, Bob Lilly, Tony Dorsett, Randy White, Mel Renfro, Michael Irvin, Troy Aikman and Emmitt Smith. He talks about the standard those players and teams set.

“You want to be in a place where there’s a high standard for achievement,” Garrett said. “I think that’s a good thing. That brings the best out in people. What we try to do each and every day is be our best. Come to work as players and coaches and put our best foot forward and get ready for our challenges each week and again, embrace the past. That’s a good thing. ... That drives us. That’s part of what drives us to achieve, really, each and every day, and certainly each season.”

Tony Romo is constantly measured against Staubach and Aikman. Aaron Rodgers is measured against Bart Starr and Brett Favre, but he has the Super Bowl ring that Romo is still looking for, having beaten the Steelers at AT&T Stadium in Super Bowl XLV.

Rodgers has 23 teammates on the roster with a Super Bowl ring.

Romo hopes one day to have his own, so he and his teammates can have their pictures on the wall holding the Lombardi Trophy.

“You want to be a part of a storied franchise,” Romo said. “It just makes it important. You want a challenge. You want it to matter, and you want it to be important. That’s what’s great about this organization and great about our fans.”

JFK Remembered: Roger Staubach

November, 21, 2013
11/21/13
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Roger StaubachAP PhotoRoger Staubach reflects on the 50-year anniversary of the assassination of President Kennedy.
The former Cowboys Hall of Fame quarterback and Naval Academy Heisman Trophy winner reflects on the 50-year anniversary of the assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy:

“We had a very good connection. We met him [President Kennedy] when he would go up to Nantucket. We used to train at Quonset Point and he would come up in the helicopter, and he was a Navy guy, PT 109, so I think he liked us better than Army. But he couldn’t say that. He switched sides.

"He was at the ’62 Army-Navy game. That was one game I played and it was a really great Army-Navy game for Navy, and he was there and he was going to be at the ’63 game. Obviously, the game was played on his behalf, and it was very emotional -- heck of a game actually. The Army quarterback, Rollie Stichweh, was fantastic. We’ve become good friends. Rollie and I talked about that game and what it meant to the country, just to see the servicemen and women at the game. Honoring the president at our game is what took place. That’s why it was such a big deal, the ’63 game. The family asked the game to be played on his behalf, so it was a special game.

“My mother heard I was going to be on the cover of Life that week. They destroyed most of them and brought them back and redid the whole cover. I was getting ready to go to class, a thermal dynamics class, and when I got to class, I found out he was killed. The game was supposed to be a week from that Saturday, but it was delayed another week. It was just a lot of circumstances that are related to that football game and the president’s death. It’s hard to believe it’s been 50 years. Time flies.”

-- Staubach, 71, as told to ESPN.com Cowboys reporter Todd Archer and ESPNDallas.com reporter Calvin Watkins

Running game to blame for Romo's record?

August, 23, 2013
8/23/13
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Put in the historical context of Cowboys’ championship teams, Roger Staubach’s point about Tony Romo needing a better running game is right on.

Fact: The Cowboys have never won a Super Bowl without a top-five rushing offense.

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Ed Werder joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett for his weekly visit to give his thoughts on the Sean Lee extension, discuss who Jerry Jones should sign to an extension next and take a look at the other three teams in the NFC East.

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Staubach and Troy Aikman had the luxury of working behind dominant offensive lines and sharing the backfield with fellow Hall of Famers in Tony Dorsett and Emmitt Smith. (The Cowboys didn’t have a Hall of Fame running back on their first title team, but Duane Thomas, Calvin Hill and Walt Garrison formed a heck of a committee.)

Here’s a quick look at the Dallas running game’s NFL rankings during the Cowboys’ championship seasons:

1971 – 3rd
1977 – 4th
1992 – 5th
1993 – 2nd
1995 – 2nd

By contrast, Romo has never quarterbacked a team with a top-five rushing offense. The only time the Cowboys ranked among the top 10 rushing offenses during his tenure as a starter just so happens to be the lone season in which the franchise won a playoff game over the last 16 seasons.

The Cowboys’ rushing ranks in the Romo era:

2006 – 13th
2007 – 17th
2008 – 21st
2009 – 7th
2010 – 16th
2011 – 18th
2012 – 31st

So Romo has only had a running game good enough to contend for the Super Bowl once, right? Not so fast. The Cowboys’ rushing offense has ranked higher than the Super Bowl champions’ four times during Romo’s tenure. The Giants won the Super Bowl two seasons ago despite ranking dead last in the league in rushing.

The Super Bowl winners’ rushing offense rank over the last seven seasons:

2006 Indianapolis Colts – 18th
2007 New York Giants – 4th
2008 Pittsburgh Steelers – 23rd
2009 New Orleans Saints – 6th
2010 Green Bay Packers – 24th
2011 New York Giants – 32nd
2012 Baltimore Ravens – 11th

The game has changed since the Cowboys’ glory years. It certainly helps to have a good running game, but it’s far from a prerequisite for winning a Super Bowl.

Now, more than ever, the NFL is a quarterback’s league. The lack of a quality running game might be a reason (or an excuse) for Romo’s lack of playoff success, but his peers have found a way to overcome the same problem in recent years.

Staubach: Dez Bryant can be NFL's best WR

August, 23, 2013
8/23/13
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ARLINGTON, Texas – Hall of Fame quarterback Roger Staubach sees Dez Bryant as a receiver who can be “really, really special.”

How special?

“Well, if he stays healthy, there won’t be a better receiver in the league than Dez Bryant,” said Staubach, who marveled at Bryant’s blend of speed, strength and sure hands. “And I want him to stay healthy and he will stay healthy. I don’t think there’s anybody better at what he can do in the league -- and there are some great receivers in the league, but what he did in the second half of the year last year is as good as it gets.”

Bryant had a breakout half-season, catching 50 passes for 879 yards and 10 touchdowns in the final eight games of 2012.

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Sal Paolantonio joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to give his thoughts on the Giants defense, Michael Vick starting in Philadelphia, how RG III's mobility impacts the division and why he thinks the Cowboys are the favorite in the NFC East.

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It’s not necessarily fair to compare statistics from different eras, but to put that into perspective, Drew Pearson had more yards in a full season only twice and never had a year with that many touchdown catches during his Ring of Honor career. Naturally, Staubach compares Bryant to the Original 88, the receiver who caught more passes from Staubach than anyone.

“Drew Pearson was like a basketball player, and I wasn’t afraid to throw it into a tight situation because I think he could figure out how to catch it,” said Staubach, who fired a few passes to the Cowboys’ current No. 88 before Thursday’s practice. “Some guys can’t do that. I think Dez has the hands. He can do it. You can throw the ball in there and he’s going to figure out how to get it out of the hands of a linebacker or a defensive back. When you have that kind of confidence in a receiver, and he’s got the ability to do that …”

Staubach didn’t finish that sentence, which is fitting. The possibilities for Bryant seem endless.

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