Photo Credit: Inside the Star

By Zane Miller

As we left off in the career of Roger Staubach, he had finished up an 11-win 1976 season, in which he led the Dallas Cowboys to an NFC East title thanks in large part to Staubach ranking in the top five in the NFL in passing yards and top 10 in passing touchdowns. Despite this, both he and the Cowboys fell flat in the playoffs, losing to the Los Angeles Rams in the opening round. Fortunately for Dallas, but unfortunately for the other 27 teams in the league, this setback would serve as fuel for a dominant Cowboys playoff run in 1977.

Staubach’s best game of the regular season came on December 12th on the road against the San Francisco 49ers, as he threw for three touchdowns and 220 yards in the Cowboys’ 42-35 victory, going on to end the season with a 12-2 record as Staubach once again started every game. Staubach improved on his already impressive 1976 campaign by placing third in the league in both passing touchdowns and passing yards, getting 18 and 2,620 respectively, on the way to the Cowboys scoring a league-leading 345 points. With that, Dallas wrapped up another NFC East title and went into the opening round of the postseason at home against the wild-card Chicago Bears.

On the Monday afternoon matchup of December 26th, the Bears did little to stand in the way of the Cowboys, as they took it 37-7 after taking a 17-0 halftime lead, as well as keeping their shutout bid going deep into the afternoon with a 34-0 advantage going into the fourth quarter. While rookie running back Tony Dorsett emerged from the game as the key offensive player with two rushing touchdowns, Staubach’s performance was nothing to sneeze at either as he had a 28-yard passing touchdown to tight end Billy Joe DuPree, eventually claiming 134 yards through the air. Also worth noting, Cowboys defensive back Charlie Waters set a postseason record at the time with three interceptions on the afternoon.

The next matchup on January 1st, 1978, would see the Cowboys keep their New Year’s celebrations going at home in the NFC Championship Game against the NFC Central-winning Minnesota Vikings, as they again won handily by a final score of 23-6. Staubach played similarly to his performance in the first round, throwing for one touchdown and 165 yards as the Cowboys defense did the rest, holding Minnesota out of the end zone through the whole game as they went on to New Orleans for Super Bowl XII.

On January 15th, with the Denver Broncos also reaching the big game thanks to a victory over the Raiders in the AFC Championship Game, Dallas seemed to have a challenge in front of them as the Broncos not only matched their final regular season record of 12-2, but were hungry as they were in their first Super Bowl in franchise history. However, despite being the biggest threat of the playoffs for the Cowboys, the Broncos too would be overmatched as Dallas went up 13-0 at halftime, eventually clinching their second Super Bowl victory by a score of 27-10. Staubach had his best game of the postseason, throwing for 183 yards and one touchdown, which was a 45-yard strike to wide receiver Butch Johnson. In contrast, Broncos quarterback Craig Morton was held to just 39 passing yards while giving up a then-Super Bowl record four interceptions, while backup signal caller Norris Wease did not fare well either as he only managed a total of 22 yards. The postseason run by the 1977 Cowboys is still remembered as one of the most dominant of all time, as they never lost a game by less than three possessions and shut out their opponents in three of the six halves played.

After getting his second Super Bowl ring, Staubach continued to play in Dallas through the end of his NFL career, including another Super Bowl appearance in the 1978 season, though this time the Cowboys would lose to the Pittsburgh Steelers 35-31. After a remarkable swan song 1979 season which saw him finish top-five in both MVP and Offensive Player of the Year voting on the way to another postseason berth, Staubach retired, ending his career with a total of 85 wins and only 29 losses.

After retirement, Staubach continued to operate his real estate company which he had founded in 1977 and focused primarily on commercial land development around the Dallas area. The business evidently was a large success, with Staubach serving as sole owner and CEO from 1982 until 2007, when he reportedly sold the company to Jones Lang LaSalle, Inc. for $613 million. Despite his corporate endeavors, Staubach did not step away from the NFL spotlight, serving as a color commentator for NFL on CBS broadcasts from 1980 to 1983. He also played a part in bringing a Super Bowl to the Dallas area, holding the role of chairman for the city’s successful bidding committee which was given Super Bowl XLV for the 2010 season, which was won by the Green Bay Packers over the Steelers. I would also be remiss if I didn’t also mention his NASCAR Cup Series team ownership, as he co-owned Hall of Fame Racing with fellow retired Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman, fielding the #96 car for Tony Raines for the 2006 season.

Since the chances of Staubach not making it into the Pro Football Hall of Fame were about as high as the odds of the Cowboys relocating to Portugal, he was swiftly inducted in 1985. However, the accolades did not stop there for Staubach, as he was also awarded with the Walter Camp Man of the Year Award in 1983, to go along with his #12 jersey being added to the Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor that same year. In 1996, Staubach earned the Lone Sailor Award for his military service with the U.S. Navy, while in 2018 he was awarded with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, becoming one of three NFL players to earn the honor, with the others being Byron White in 2003 and Alan Page in 2018 as well.